- Kīpuka, Native Hawaiian Center at Pu'uloa
Did you know that Kāʻī kalo has more than one variety?
ʻEwa was once known for its agricultural productivity and prized Kāʻī kalo. The Kāʻī variety of kalo is extremely difficult to pound into poi, especially when cold. It takes a very skilled person to pound this kalo, but if done correctly, it is the finest poi one will taste on Oʻahu. Kāʻī: “Ua ʻai i ke kāʻī-koi o ʻEwa” He has eaten the kāʻī-koi of ʻEwa.
In an 1899 article from the newspaper Ka Loea Kalaiaina, the precious Kāʻī variety of kalo consists of three distinct types. The Kāʻī Kea is a red-skinned kalo with a dark corm and light-colored stems and leaves. The Kāʻī ʻEleʻele is a dark-skinned kalo with a black stem, dark leaves, and the same colored corm as the Kāʻī Kea. The third and most prized variety of Kāʻī kalo is the Kāʻī Koi. This kalo is named koi, or forceful, because of its tendency to have many stems that shoot up from its corm (its only distinctive feature). Sadly, the Kāʻī variety of kalo is said to be rare in 1899. Although nearly gone today, the Kāʻī Kea variety can still be found at Ka Papa Loʻi o Kānewai at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and in a handful of loʻi throughout Hawaiʻi nei.