HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the pae ʻāina so the meaning of their names can be uncovered.
It is time to bring attention to a plant used in the art of healing.
In the ahupuaʻa of Wailua, which lies in the moku of Puna on the island of Kauaʻi, stands a homestead street that carries the Hawaiian name to a plant referred to as Morning Glory.
That street is Koali Street.
Koali is thought to be an indigenous plant to Hawaii, with many varieties. The vine belongs to the sweet potato family and is commonly looked at as a weed.
However, Koali has many uses that helped ancient Hawaiians and is even used today. In the Hawaiian language, the word Koali means “to swing, or twirl about.”
So it makes sense that this plant is used to twine cordage and nets. In times of famine, some varieties of Koali were used as a fallback food when other crops failed.
In Lāʻau Lapaʻau, or Hawaiian natural medicine, Koali is used externally to help treat broken bones.
The flowers, leaves, vines and roots would be gathered, mashed and placed directly on the skin, then wrapped with a Tī-leaf as a bandage.
The juice of this plant is used internally as a laxative.
Parts of the plant are poisonous, however, so please consult a cultural practitioner before doing anything on your own.
Did you know? Now you do!