Sunday, April 13, 2014

Canoe Crops

He keiki aloha nā mea kanu
Beloved children are the plants
(ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 684)

In the past two decades, significant advances in radiocarbon dating and the targeted re-dating of key Eastern Polynesian and Hawaiian sites has strongly supported a “short chronology” model of Eastern Polynesian settlement.

It is suggested that initial Polynesian discovery and colonization of the Hawaiian Islands occurred between approximately AD 1000 and 1200.  (Kirch)

These early Polynesians brought with them shoots, roots, cuttings and seeds of various plants for food, cordage, medicine, fabric, containers, all of life's vital needs.

“Canoe crops” (Canoe Plants) is a term to describe the group of plants brought to Hawaiʻi by these early Polynesians.

It is believed that these settlers, and the settlers that followed them, introduced a variety of plant species - the canoe crops.  The following list notes the Hawaiian name and (common names;) origin; how it’s grown and uses for some of these various plants.

1. Ko (Sugar Cane) India; Upper-stalk cutting; Food, Medicine, Religion, etc.

2. ʻOhe (Bamboo) Pacific Islands; Root; Knives, Kapa stamps, etc.

3. Niu (Coconut Palm) South Pacific; Sprouted coconut; Food, Cordage, etc.

4. ʻApe (Elephant Ear) Tropical Asia and Oceania; Tuber; Food in times of famine, etc.

5. Kalo (Taro) Tropical Asia; Tuber; Main food plant: Hawaiian-Polynesian "Staff of Life"

6. Ki (Ti Plant) Tropical Asia and Australia; Stem cuttings; Food, Medicine, etc.

7. Pia (Polynesian Arrowroot) Malay Archipelago; Tuber; Food, Medicine, etc.

8. Uhi (Yam) Asia; Tuber; Food, most important kind of yam

9. Hoi (Air Potato) Tropical Asia; Tuber; Food during famine

10. Piʻa (Five-Leafed Yam) Tropical Asia, Pacific; Tuber; Food during famine. etc

11. Maiʻa (Banana) Cultigen (Obscure Origin); Suckers; Food and its preparation

12. ʻOlena (Turmeric) Tropical Asia; Root; Dye, Purification, etc

13. ‘Awapuhi (Wild Ginger) India; Root; Scenting, Medicine, etc

14. ʻAwa (Kava) Pacific Islands; Sprouting stem; Relaxing beverage, etc

15. ʻUlu (Breadfruit) Pacific Islands, probably Guam; Root sprouts; Food, Craft, etc

16. Wauke (Paper Mulberry) East Asia; Root sprouts; Make kapa and clothing

17. Paʻihi (Bitter Cress) Polynesia; Transplant small plant; Food, Medicine

18. Auhuhu (Fish Poison Plant) Tropical South Asia and Pacific; Seed; Fish poison, etc

19. Kukui (Candlenut Tree) Asia, Pacific Islands; Seed or seedling transplant; Lighting, Food, Craft, etc

20. Hau (Hibiscus) Tropical Pacific and Old World; Stem cutting; To make fire, canoes, medicine, fertilizer, etc

21. Milo (Portia Tree) Coasts of Eastern Tropics; Seed; To make calabashes, etc

22. Kamani (Alexandrian Laurel) Tropical Asia and Pacific; Seed; Calabashes, Lei, etc

23. ʻŌhiʻa ʻAi (Mountain Apple) Tropical Asia, Oceania; Seed or seedling transplant; Food, Craft, etc

24. ʻUala (Sweet Potato) Tropical America; Slips or stem cuttings; Food: vegetable from leaves, starch from tubers

25. Kou  Africa to Polynesia; Seed; Best wood for calabashes

26. Noni (Indian Mulberry) Asia, Australia, and Pacific Islands; Root sprout, Seed; Medicine, etc

27. Ipu (Bottle Gourd) Tropical Asia or Africa; Seed; Containers for food storage, musical instruments, etc

(The listing is from Polynesian Seafaring Heritage; Dr Harold St John and Kuaika Jendrusch.  Domesticated animals, including pigs, dogs and chickens were also introduced.)

The image shows an ancient voyaging canoe (Herb Kane.)  In addition, I have added others similar images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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