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`Awa

Awa - Kava

English name:

Kava
Family name:
Piperaceae
Scientific name:
Piper methysticum
Introduced by:
Polynesian introduction
Origin:
Pacific Islands
See Also...

  Awapuhi
  Noni
  'Ohia'a'ai
  'Olena

DISTRIBUTION

Hawaiian tradition gives it a status of being indigenous. It is believed that it was brought to Kauai first from Tahiti, then brought to Oahu and spread throughout the other islands.

HABITAT

`Awa is a species of the Hawaiian wet forests. It grows well when there is a constant moisture and not too much sun. Also prefers rich moist loamy soil.

CHARACTERISTICS

Stem:`Awa is an attractive shrub that can grow to more than three meters. Its a hardy slow-growing perennial that's cultivated for its rootstock called stump. The stems are green, jointed with knobby or swollen nodes.
Leaves: The leaves are heart-shaped, about 5-8 inches long with 1 inch leaf stalks. The leaves are palmately veined, that is 11-13 prominent veins originate from the base of the leaf.
Flowers:
Male and female flowers are borne in separate clusters on different plants (dioecious species).
Root: The average fresh weight of `awa's root system is 1 kg at 10 months old. The rootstock color varies from white to dark yellow depending upon the amount of psychoactive kava lactones that are contine din a lemon-yellow resin.

ECONOMIC VALUES

`Awa was used mainly as a narcotic drink that induces relaxation and sleep. The leaves, bark and roots are used as medicine for general debility, weary muscles, chills, colds, headaches, lung and other respiratory diseases, displacement of womb, congestion of urinary tract, rheumatism, asthma. It is also used for several rituals or ceremonial purposes such as: weaning of a child, offering to Laka, the goddess of hula, expiration of sickness, divination, and mediumism practise.

 

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Last Modified: 14-Dec-2010 13:23 HST