HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to their given names?  

Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiʻi if you did?  

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Our weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various streets across the island chain so we can dig into those names, and in turn, learn something new.  

This week, we bring attention to an endemic tree in Hawaiʻi.

In the ahupuaʻof Wailuku, which lies in the moku of Pūʻali Komohana on the island of Maui, stands a street that carries the essence of strength.  

We are talking about Koa Drive.

In Hawaiian language, the word koa has multiple meanings, including brave, fearless, soldier and warrior.

But the word koa also refers to the largest of native Hawaiian forest trees, the Acacia koa.  

As an endemic tree, koa can only be found in Hawaiʻi making its wood even more valuable due to its strength, beauty, and age.

The koa tree plays an important role within a diverse forest and the environment.  

With its leaves facing sideways rather than up towards the sun, they act as an extension of its roots, pulling in moisture from the air as the wind blows in from the side.  

As water moves through the leaves and the tree’s trunk, it is funneled into the ground and to its root system beneath.  

But in doing so, it also helps to replenish the island’s water supply.

Large pools of water known as aquifers are located under the islands which people tap into to use.

As water is captured by koa trees up on mountains, it helps to move water back into and refill those aquifers below.

Koa wood is used for many products and purposes including making a traditional ʻukulele as it also produces a beautiful sound.

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Did you know? Now you do!