Common Name

Hawaiian Name

Scientific Name
Cordia subcordata


KMS office


Whole Plant





Location On Campus

It is found near the faculty parking lot by the middle school office. It is the tree next to the yellow cement poles.

Natural Habitat

 Kou is found in all of the main islands except for Moloka‘i and Kaho‘olawe. Kou usually grows in low elevation, dry, and coastal areas.

Cultural Information

Kou is indigenous to Hawai‘i although it was previously thought to be Polynesian Introduced. People have seen it in many of the main Hawaiian islands. It is also grown in Asia and North America for medical and culinary uses.

Plant Description


  • Non-aggressive
  • Resistant to salt water and to root knot nematodes(worm-like animals that are common in soil)


  • Woody
  • Pale gray in color
  • Bark is flaky and sometimes stringy
  • Grows straight up but is a little curved when fully grown
  • Can also be about 9 m tall)


  • Green in color
  • 8 cm long
  • Petioles are 1-6 cm long
  • Round at the base
  • Simple leaf
  • Used to make brown dye for kapa cloth.


  • 2 cm in diameter
  • Mouth is 2-4 cm
  • Orange in color
  • Scentless


  • Dry and brown when mature
  • Green in color
  • Mature when it turns brown
  • 2.5 cm long and round in shape
  • Surface is smooth
  • Edible


  • 4 seeds in the fruit
  • About 1 cm long and narrow
  • Edible

Other Interesting Facts:

  • Evergreen tree
  • A shade tree of the Hawaiian people.

Web Site Links

Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai‘i Kou

This site will show you many parts of the plant and a great description of the plant's parts.

Hamakua Marsh

If you need brief information on Kou, then check out this site.


This site provides even more information on Kou.



Discovering Kauai's Real Lost World Ernst, Cheryl, Malamalama Editor. University of Hawaii. 29 April 2003 <>

Kou J & J Advertising & Kilauea WebWorks. 12 March 2003 <>

Krauss, Beatrice H. Plants In Hawaiian Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.

 Lamb, Samuel H. Native Trees and Shrubs of The Hawaiian Islands. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 1981.

 Wagner, Warren L., Herbst, Derral R., and Sohmer, S. H.Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i Revised Edition Volume 2. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1999.

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