Bob's Wood
Bob Butts, woodworker
A Photo Album: RW Butts RW

a Wood List grown in Hawaii

Here in Hawaii we have a few traditions, some really old, like the hula (a dance, with song or chant), and calabash (wooden vessel) for the alii (royalty). With the missionaries came newer traditions, like the muumuu (woman´s long, loose dress) and furniture.

Certain woods were traditionally kapu (tabu) for the common folk. And some Hawaiian woods are illegal to own today.

Calabashes were crafted from indigenous trees, and still are. And of course, the alii coveted the finest pieces crafted from the finer woods. It's a tradition. And of the many species which thrive on the islands, koa is the most sought after. Koa calabashes are always in demand from visitors and kamaaina (local folk).

That's why RW Butts inc was formed. Bob (RW) crafts award-winning furniture, calabashes and bowls from beautiful, locally grown woods. The trees are usually salvaged, trees removed for various reasons including disease and construction. See Bob's Photo Album!

Hawaiian Grown Woods
Endemic and Introduced

Non-Exhaustive List

(Koaia or Koa Oha)
Used by natives for spears and fancy paddles; endemic to the Islands

(Myoporum sandwicense)
Used for frames of Hawaiian houses & fishing torches; also used as a substitute for iliahi

(Calophyllum inophyllum)
A reddish colored wood currently used in cabinetmaking; fine furniture wood

(Nerium indicum)
Every part of the tree is poisonous; used medicinally in small quantities for skin diseases

(Macadamia integrifolia)
First brought into Hawaii in 1890 from Australia; valued for its reddish, fine-grained cabinet wood; highly prized for its nut

(Persea americana)
Introduced into Hawaii in the early part of the 19th century; common in Hawaii for its fruit

(Schinus terebinthifolia)
Introduced to Hawaii in 1911 as an ornamenta

(Mangifera indica)
Introduced prior to 1825 by Spanish-born friend &advisor to the Hawaiian king, Don Marin; used primarily for its fruit; provides shade & wood is presently used for calabashes and furniture.

Begonia family; ornamental, little wood value

(Swietenia mahagoni)
Valued for furniture, musical instruments; Florida origin, less common in Hawaii; ranks as the best cabinet wood of the world

(Angophora lanceolata)
From Australia; used as an ornamental

(Melia azedarach)
Poisonous, has insecticidal properties; used as ornamental shade

(Litchi Chinensis)
Brought from southern China in 1873; used for its fruit

(Terminalia edulis)
From the East Indies, Philippines; edible fruit

POINCIANA {'Ohai-ula]}
(Delonix regia)
One of the best loved trees of Hawaii because of its flower; native to Madagascar

(Albizzia lebbeck)
Native to Northern Africa eastward to Australia; planted for shade ornamental; wood is excellent for cabinet-work, similar to walnut

(Plumeria acuminata)
Native of tropical America; prolific in Hawaii; has medicinal properties; produces the most common flowers used in leis

OLIVE {Oliwa}
(Olea europaea)
Cultivated in the Mediterranean, not commonly developed in Hawaii; used in canes, brushes & small articles

(Bobea sandwicensis)
Employed by natives as poi boards &top rims of outrigger canoes

(Ficus elastica)
Interesting reproduction process; legends of the banyan abound; originating in India; some trees in Hawaii are over 100 years old

(Hibiscus tiliaceus)
Used by Hawaiians for outriggers of canoes & cross sticks of kites; used with olomea wood to produce fire; flowers used medicinally; fibers of inner barks used for ropes, net bags & tapa

(Cocos nucifera)
The official tree of the Territory of Hawaii before statehood; early Hawaiians used the leaves for thatching, baskets, fans, brooms, string; sandals & strainers from the fibrous material at leaf bases; husks provided cordage used in fishing, house construction; oils used for light, ointment & hair oil; shells made into utensils; posts, furniture, construction & spears from the hard outer part; sap of flowering buds tapped as a source of sugar, wine & vinegar; food source (and the list goes on and on)

(Acacia confusa)
Introduced from Taiwan about 1925; hardy in adverse conditions; used extensively for revegetating eroded sites in Hawaii

(Cassia siamea)
Native to warm regions; NAME="milo">MILO" derived from the resemblance of the grain to pheasant feathers

(Eugenia malaccensis)
Used as an attractive ornamental & shade tree, also windbreaks; provided an inexpensive food for slaves; naturalized in moist lowland forests throughout the Hawaiian Islands, mainly on windward sides in valleys & gorges

(Tamarindus indica)
Introduced to Hawaii in 1797, planted mainly for shade & along roadsides in dry areas; was once, but no longer, used as an ornamental; seen mostly in older parts of towns

(psidium guajava)
Used for jelly, jam & juice commercially; Hawaiians made medicinal tea with astringent effect

(Tecton grandis)
Native of monsoon forests of India eastward to Java; highly valued for its timber; used in ships, bridges & furniture

(Tabebuia donnell-smithii)
Considered one of the most beautiful of all trees; native of Mexico & Central America; wood used world-wide for veneering, cabinetwork, furniture & flooring

Mainly grown for ornamental; some odor & medicinal uses

(Prosopis pallida)
Kiawe means "to sway"; the most common tree in lowland dry zones of Hawaii; occupies otherwise unproductive barren land; pods & foliage used for feed; wood used for firewood; kiawe honey is exported, produced mainly on Niihau & Molokai

(Thespesia populnea)
Used by the Hawaiians for calabashes; rope was made from fibers of the tree; seeds used medicinally; hardy in coastal areas

(Diospyros hillebrandii)
Confined to Oahu & Kauai; of the ebony family; highly prized by ancient Hawaiians, means "light" used in the heiau of Laka; wood not presently used

(Alphitonia ponderosa)
Peculiar to Hawaii, not known from other parts of the world; beautiful cherry or dark red in color, fine-textured & strong & durable; one of the heaviest native woods; highly valued by the Hawaiians; wood served for tools in the absence of metals; uses included hut beams, mallets for beating tapa cloth, spears 13-20 ft long, javelins and the o'o; grows in the lower dry forests on the leeward sides of the larger Hawaiian islands, sometimes on exposed ridges & on aa fields; rare except on Kauai

(Acacia koa)
Hawaii's largest native tree & 2nd most common; native Hawaiians used koa for carved, dug out canoes & paddles & calabashes; wood today used for many purposes

(Cordia subcordata)
Used by Hawaiians for handsome bowls, cups & dishes; favored for utensils, not imparting a flavor to foods as other native woods; flowers used in leis; seeds eaten; trees destroyed by moths & are now rare

(Eucalyptus citriodora)
Related to about 50 different eucalyptus species in Hawaii; known as the "lemon gum"; leaves have strong citrus odor; introduced in the 1880's as a windbreak tree

(Coccoloba uvifera)
One of the first woody species established on sandy shores; planted as ornamental or windbreak along coasts; jelly & wine-like beverage from the fruits; early Spanish colonists used leaves as substitute paper

(Jacaranda acutifolia)
Ornamental flowering tree from Brazil

(Terminalia angustifolia)
Malaysian Origin; similar to false kamani

(Grevillea robusta)
Introduced from Australia about 1880; utilized for furniture, cabinetmaking; wood resembles oak

(Sequoia sempervirems)
Very fast growing, termite resistant tree; construction, lumber & fencing are the main uses of its wood

(Eucalyptus saliqna sm)
Native of Australia & Malaysia; used for reforestation

(Bucida buceras)
Native of Florida, Panama & West Indies; rare in Hawaii; wood useful in construction

(Haematoxyon campechianum)
Hardwood used for dyes, stains & inks, also as an astringent & antiseptic; has sold for as much as $5,000 a ton

(Mezoneuron kauaiense)
Endemic Hawaiian forest tree; wood extremely hard & durable, almost black in color; natives made spears & laau melo-melo , a fishing implement, from the wood; wood very heavy & sank

(Araucaria heterophylla)
Discovered by Captain Cook on Norfolk Island; used in Hawaii for Christmas trees; wood used for bowls

(Terminalia catappa)
Roots, bark, leaves & fruit used medicinally & for tanning skins; occasionally used as a substitute for kamaniCEDAR
(Cedrela odorata)
Aromatic, light in weight; grows in West Indies, south to the Amazon

(Pithecellobium saman)
Native of tropical America, the tree is a honey plant; pods have sweetish, licorice flavor; valued mainly for shade; wood used extensively for many items

(Pithecellobium dulce)
Introduced about 1870 for shade; used for general construction, boxes, crates, posts & fuel; bark yields a yellow dye; naturalized in pastures & waste places; according to one source, the Hawaiian name 'opiuma is from the resemblance of the seeds to opium

(Metrosideros polymorpha)
Most common tree of Hawaii's wet forests; flowers sacred to Pele and used in leis; Hawaiians used wood for construction, carved images, household implements & wear-strips along the gunwales of canoes; wood used today for flooring

(Euphoria longan)
From China, cultivated for its edible fruits; similar to litchi tree

(Fagraea berteriana)
Native of South Pacific Islands; flowers desirable for leis; Hawaiian means "ten-cent flower"-

(Sophora chrysophylla)
Native of Hawaii, found on all islands excluding Molokai, at altitudes of 1,000-9,500 ft; used by Hawaiians for sled runners & farming spades

(Toona ciliata)
Common in eastern Australia; light in weight, used for cigar boxes; commonly used in Hawaii for reforestation

Hawaii is one of 7 places in the world sandalwood is grown; Chinese called Hawaii "the Sandalwood Islands"; highly valued for its aromatic uses; sometimes used by Hawaiians to scent tapa; known to have been more costly than any other wood in the world, sold by the pound; endangered in the last century due to export; in great demand in the orient; used for medicine, incense & perfume

(Cinnamomum camphora)
From China & Japan; crushed leaves & every part of the tree has the odor of camphor; insect-proof; used medicinally & for perfume; also used to scent enclosed areas & boxes, & protect linens

(Pandanus odoratissimus)
Native to Hawaii & other Pacific islands; the object of many legends; used by Hawaiians medicinally; the leaves, lauhala, were plaited into light, durable clothing as well as many other every day items; all parts of the tree were used for daily living items

(Casuarina cunninghamiana)
Introduced from Australia; known for its droopy, wiry pine needles; wood used for fuel, windbreaks & shade

(Enterolobium Cyclocarpum)
Flowering shade tree with elephant ear-shaped pods; wood used for canoes, water troughs & cabinets

(Nothocestrum longifolium)
Peculiar to the rainforests on all island groups; grows to a height of 7-10 ft

Used ornamentally; medium-sized evergreen tree; aromatic; planted by Portuguese settlers

(Eucalyptus robusta)
Commonly known as "swamp mahogany"; from Australia; used for reforestation

(Acacia koa)
Koa noted for its distinctive, curly grain; sometimes called fiddleback"; used for ukulele

(Tristania conferta)
Related to eucalyptus; introduced in forest plantations; planted as ornamental & for shade

(Morus Nigra)
From Asia Minor; abundant, juicy fruits; leaves used as food for silkworms

(Glyricidia sepien)
From tropical America; the seeds yield the cocoa of commerce; by-product from the seeds produce a fat used in cosmetics

Grown for ornamental, windbreak & reforestation; from Barbados & Bermuda.

(Araucaria cunninghamii)
Thriving in Hawaii and used for reforestation; a native of eastern Australia.

(E deglupta)
From Indonesia & Philippines; used for reforestation

(Spathodea campanulata)
A showy ornamental from tropical Africa with attractive scarlet flowers ; also called the "fountain tree" when its unexpanded flowers contain water.

(Spondias dulcis)
From islands of the South Pacific; fruit unpleasantly scented but flavor of apple; wood used for canoes.

(Acacia catechu)
Very common in Hawaii; glue can be produced from the gum of the main stem; the leaves are used medicinally and are very perfumed; dyes and inks are derived from the pods; probably of American origin.

(Cassia javanica)
A hybrid tree grown from seed resulting from the pollination of the pink & white shower with the golden shower. From the early flowering in March, the flowers range in color from cream to orange to red.

(Aleurites moluccana)
The official tree emblem for the State of Hawaii, kukui is also called candlenut. Native from Polynesia west to southern Asia, the kukui has been much used by the Hawaiians. The nuts in different stages have been used: to produce a black dye; eaten as a relish when baked, pounded and mixed with salt & chili peppers; to make highly polished leis, black from ripe nuts and white from the immature. Most noted for the oil produced, (kukui = lamp, or light) at one time Hawaii exported 10,000 gallons a year. Canoes were made from the tree trunks. Often mentioned in Hawaiian literature and proverbs, the kukui are large trees common throughout Hawaii.

(Artocarpus communis)
It is said that the first breadfruit trees were planted at Kualoa for a chief of Oahu, brought from Tahiti. Common in Hawaii, it is one of the most attractive trees around which many Tahitian & Hawaiian myths exist. The light wood is good for canoes and the popular fruit is prepared numerous ways for food throughout Polynesia.

(Manilkara zapota)
The main source of chicle for chewinggum; from Central America; it produces a favorite fruit in tropical America; its hard, fine red wood is useful for many purposes.

(Eugenia caulifloria)
From Jaboticaba, Brazil; edible fruits

(Psychotria hawaiiensis)
Also known as opiko, kopiko 'ula; wood used for the making of kua kukukapa, anvil for beating bark into tapa cloth and also for fuel.

ROSE APPLE {ohia loke}
(Eugenia jambos)
Introduced into Hawaii about 1825, apparently for the edible, aromatic fruit; wood seldom used

(Cryptomeria japonica)
The national tree of Japan; bears both male & female cones; the wood is used for fence posts and grown as ornamental & windbreak.

(Melaleuca leucadendra)
Native from southeastern Asia to Australia; used for reforestation; oil extracted from leaves used medicinally; wood used for fuel, posts and shipbuilding.

(Bauhinia manandra)
Thriving in dry soil and lava flows, this tree is commonly used as an ornamental; probably from tropical America.

(Thevetia peruviana)
An attractive, everblooming small tree of native tropical America; all parts are poisonous to humans and livestock; small amounts are sometimes used medicinally.

(Cinnamon zeylanicum)
A favorite flavor for food, candy, gum and dentifrices; resembles the camphor; imported from Ceylon.


The Indigenous Trees of the Hawaiian Islands, by J.E. Rock
In Gardens of Hawaii, by Marie C. Neal
Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced), by Elbert L. Little, Jr., and Roger G. Skolmen
Know Your Woods, by Constantine
Bart Potter, wood specialist
Compiled by Linda Butts, 1987



photo by Hephzibah
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