Hawaiian Name(s): kāwa‘u, ka‘wa‘u, ‘aiea (Kauai)

Scientific Name: Ilex anomala

Vernacular Name: Hawaiian holly

Family: Aquifoliaceae

Status: indigenous

Authority: Hook. & Arn.

Description: Trees or shrubs, 7-13 m tall.

Habitat Usually found in mesic to wet forest, 600-1400 m (Wagner et al. 1990:221–222).

Medicines: See Zanthoxylum depetalum

Non Medicinal Uses: The wood is used for anvils, kapa beaters, and for canoe parts (Abbott 1992:52; Krauss 1993:62; Malo 1951:21). Little & Skolmen note that the sapwood is hard (1989:178); others have remarked that the wood is soft (Lamb 1981:75). [The same Hawaiian name is used for Zanthoxylum dipetalum, and there may be some confusion]. In the Ethnology Collection at Bishop Museum there is a post-contact example of the wood made into a bowl.

Specific gravity of wood: unknown

Famous Locations:


`Ōlelo Noeau:

Dye Color and Parts:

Kino lau:

Location on Bishop Museum Kalihi Campus:

Propagation Information: Native Plants Hawaii.

Seed: Seed length approximately 2 mm. Photograph: H.Lennstrom.
Click for image