Hawaii State Plant

Kalo (Hawaiian word for taro)

Kalo: Hawaii State Plant

(Colocasia esculenta)

Adopted in 2008.

Hawaii designated Kalo as the official state plant in 2008. Kalo (Colocasia esculenta) is the Hawaiian word for taro. Taro is the staple of the Native Hawaiian diet and at the core of the Hawaiian culture.Hawaiians believe the taro plant to be sacred. Taro, called “kalo” in Hawaiian, is central to the Native Hawaiian creation story.

Taro, the crop used to make poi, has been named the state plant.

Taro joins the hibiscus as the state flower and the kukui as the state tree.

Hawaii State Plant: Kalo

Kalo: Hawaii State Plant

Colocasia esculenta is a tropical plant grown primarily for its edible corms, the root vegetables whose many names include taro and eddoe. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants.

Rhizomes of different shapes and sizes. Leaves up to 40 cm, sprouts from rhizome, dark green above and light green beneath, triangular-ovate, sub-rounded and mucronate at apex, tip of the basal lobes rounded or sub-rounded. Petiole 0.8 -1.2 m high. Spathe up to 25 cm long. Spadix about 3/5 as long as the spathe, flowering parts up to 8 mm in diameter. Female portion at the fertile ovaries intermixed with sterile white ones. Neuters above the females, rhomboid or irregular oblong. Male portion above the neuter. Synandrium lobed, cells 6 or 8. Appendage shorter than the male portion.

Taro's primary use is the consumption of its edible corm and leaves. In its raw form, the plant is toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate, and the presence of needle-shaped raphides in the plant cells. However, the toxin can be minimized and the tuber rendered palatable by cooking, or by steeping in cold water overnight.

Corms of the small round variety are peeled and boiled, sold either frozen, bagged in its own liquids, or canned. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Hawaii Law

The law designating the kalo as the official Hawaii state plant is found in the Hawai`i Revised Statutes, Volume 1, Chapter 5, Section 5-15

Volume 1.

[§5-15.5] State plant. Kalo (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott), the Hawaiian word for taro, is adopted, established, and designated as the official plant of the State. [L 2007, c 36, §2; am L 2008, c 71, §1]

Cross References: Hand-pounded poi, see §321-4.7.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Kalo (taro)

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Arecidae
Order: Arales
Family: Araceae – Arum family
Genus: Colocasia Schott – colocasia
Species: Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott – coco yam

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