Durable and beautiful
Koa has always been highly prized for durability and beauty. In old Hawaii, koa was one of the only trees large enough to make the big ocean sailing canoes. Before a tree was cut down, a kapuna or wise elder would bless the tree to appease the spirit of the tree and help ensure safe ocean voyages. Some call koa the king’s wood, but in old Hawaii it was not valued as high as other wood. Once it’s beauty was discovered by outsiders, its value grew. It continued to grow as it became more and more rare.
Koa different subspecies
Curly koa is highly prized and the most expensive koa wood. Curly koa is not a subspecies though, but a result of the environment where the koa grows. The harsher the environment, the more curly the wood will be. For example, a koa tree that grows in a valley will not be as curly as a koa tree that grows on a hill top. Koa adapts quickly to different environments, which is why there are so many different subspecies. Subspecies of koa can be classified by their elevation, the amount of rainfall in the area and what island they grow on and more specifically, where on the island they grow. The different subspecies differ in their growth pattern, the color of the wood and sometimes even in the leaf shape and size. Koa grows on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai. Big Island koa is more red, while Maui koa is more golden.