Kauila Plant Information

Kauila grows in the following 1 states:


Colubrina oppositifolia, known as Kauila in Hawaiian, is a species of flowering tree in the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae, that is endemic to Hawaii. It can be found in dry, coastal mesic, and mixed mesic forests at elevations of 240-920m (790-3,020ft) on the islands of Oahu (Waianae Range) and Hawaii (slopes of Kohala, Huallai, and Mauna Loa). There is also one individual remaining on Maui. Associated plants include alahee (Psydrax odorata) and ohe kukulueo (Reynoldsia sandwicensis).

This tree reaches a height of 5-13m (16-43ft). The trunk is coated in shredding gray-brown bark and the smaller twigs are reddish. The leaves are oppositely arranged and have pointed oval blades. The yellow-green flowers occur in clusters of 10 to 12. The fruit is a rounded capsule which is explosively dehiscent.
Native Hawaiians valued the hard wood of C. oppositifolia and that of a related species, Alphitonia ponderosa, both of which were known as kauila. Consequently, the exact usage of C. oppositifolia wood is unknown. It is believed to have been used in pou (house posts), hohoa (round kapa beaters), ie kk (square kapa beaters), (harpoons), hia k upena (fishing net shuttles), ihe pahee (javelins), polol (spears), phoa (daggers), la plau (clubs), leiomano (shark tooth clubs), (digging sticks), pieces for ume (a wand game), and kk (musical bows).
This tree has become rare in the wild. Once a dominant species of the forests it inhabits, it has now been reduced to no more than 300 wild individuals. Threats to the species have included introduced plant species, feral pigs and goats, rats, and the black twig borer (Xylosandrus compactus). The hard wood made it valuable to people, who overharvested it. This is a federally listed endangered species of the United States.

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