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Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai`i
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`Ape - `Awa -`Awapuhi -Hau -Ipu -Kalo -Kamani -Ki -Ko -Kou -Kukui -Mai`a
Milo -Niu -Noni -`Ohe -`Ohi`a `Ai -`Olena -Olona -Pia -`Uala -Uhi -`Ulu -Wauke

`APE

Sometimes called "Elephant's Ear",`ape (pronounced ah-pay), is related to and resembles a large taro plant. In contrast to taro, whose leaves point earth-ward, the larger heart-shaped leaves of `ape tend to point upward, adding to its height. The shiny green leaves can grow up to 2-4 feet long by 2 feet wide. Some varieties have patches of white. `Ape's leaf stems may be green or a whitish color and reach up to 4 1/2 feet long. The trunk of this plant is ringed and is often 3-4 inches thick in diameter, rising as high as 4-8 feet. It is used in modern times as a landscaping plant due to its tropical appearance and ability to provide shade in a garden.`Ape thrives in a slightly moist and shady location with well composted soil.

`Ai no i ka `ape he nane`o no ka nuku.
He who eats `ape is bound to have his mouth itch.
He who indulges in some thing harmful will surely reap the result!
Similar to taro, the underground stem and corm is edible, and as with taro, is only safe to eat after lengthy cooking which breaks down the irritant of the uncooked crystals of calcium oxalate, which can injure internal human tissue. Not a favored food, `ape was eaten only in times of famine when other foods were scarce.

Originating in southern Asia, `ape (Alocasia macrorrhiza, Xanthosoma robustum) grows throughout the Pacific and was brought by Polynesian voyagers as roots in their canoes to Hawai`i over 1500 years ago. The plant figures in Hawaiian legends as well as in those of Rarotonga. `Ape was used as an ingredient in a dye used to color ipu/gourds.

Medicinally, the juice from freshly cut stems can be an antidote on the skin to itchy stinging plants such as ko/sugar cane and nettle. In the old days, the leaves of `ape and of ti were used to wrap a fevered person for comfort, and because it was said the bitter sap of `ape would frighten away negative spirits.


Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawai`i
Home
Home
Intro - Contents - Bibliography - Links - Credits

`Ape - `Awa -`Awapuhi -Hau -Ipu -Kalo -Kamani -Ki -Ko -Kou -Kukui -Mai`a
Milo -Niu -Noni -`Ohe -`Ohi`a `Ai -`Olena -Olona -Pia -`Uala -Uhi -`Ulu -Wauke