Information Regarding Koa Wood
Koa is the Hawaiian word for "strength" or "warrior". On the mainland, it is
one of the lesser-known treasures of the Hawaiian Islands, but it has a rich
history and is very much appreciated by those living in Hawaii.
Koa is in the Acacia family, but this particular species only grows in the
Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii's endemic Acacia Koa exists naturally nowhere
else in the world.
The majestic Koa tree takes 50 or more years to mature, growing up to 120
feet and six or seven feet in diameter. It grows best along the slopes of the
mountains at an elevation from 3,000' to approx. 6,000'. Nearly all of the
trees that remain on the islands today are on the Big Island, Hawaii, where
the most desirable wood is earmarked for delivery to mills in the Western
United States (mainland) for very expensive furniture and other wood
Koa trees sprout out of old lava fields. The dark volcanic soil is
responsible for the wood's trademark deep tones. The color and grain of
Koa varies greatly from tree to tree; but, it always has a beautiful grain
often patterned with darker colored bands. The color of the wood ranges
from blond to light brown to deep chocolate brown to the most common
deep reddish brown color. The most coveted grain of koa is curly and
wavy, which gives an almost three-dimensional effect. Koa feels very hard
and heavy, similar to black walnut. It seasons well without warping or
splitting. Perhaps these are the reasons why it was historically the chosen
material for carved ocean-going Hawaiian canoes.
Paintings by Joel