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Endemic vs. Indigenous - "The difference"

An endemic tree is a tree not found naturally anywhere else in the world.  For example, Koa is endemic to Hawaii which make them extremely rare if you think about it.  An indigenous tree is a tree that naturally grows there and was not brought there, it also naturally grows in other regions of the world.  For example Maple is indigenous to North America and Europe.
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This page will give our clients a look at some of the woods we use at Native Woodworks.  Lets start with the monarch of the Hawaiian rainforest "Acacia" Koa is the largest of the endemic tree in Hawaii.  Today koa grows to about 100 feet tall with a 40 to 60 inch trunk (diameter).  The Kupuna "Elders" say that there were once trees with 18 feet in circumference with straight trunks fro 50 feet before there were any branches.  Koa also grew naturally at elevations as low as 300 feet.  Today koa thrives in the 2,300 to 4,300 feet elevation range.
Historically koa was used by the Hawaiians to build canoes, surfboards, paddles, spear handles and ceremonial calabashes.  Today, koa is still prized for its beauty and is a favorite of furniture makers, cabinet makers, lurtherins and turners alike. 
Koa color ranges from a blond yellow to strawberry blond to black depending upon the island, elevation and area it came from.

Ohi'a (Metrosideros polymorpha) is a large, hearty tree in Hawaii.  Ohia can grow up to 80 feet tall with a 24 inch diameter trunk.  Ohia is a very hard and seemingly indistructable wood.  Ohia is still used today for posts in homes and was once exported to the mainland for railroad ties.  The wood color can range from a dark purple to chocolate brown and some may have black stripes.

Milo (Thespesia populnea) is found neer the ocean.  An average tree will grow to 20 feet tall with a 12 to 18 inch diameter trunk.  Milo is most commonly used historically and today to make calabash bowls.  The wood is brown with dark brown flux running throught it.  Freshly cut milo has a pink or red hue to it. 

Kou (Cordia subcordata) grows by the ocean up to 35 to 40 feet tall with a 24 inch diameter.  Historically the wood was the choice of Ali'i for their bowls. 

We have done custom wood working for the following companies/agencies:



 University of Hawaii


State of Hawaii  Judiciary

Maile Santana Wisler, NWW Webmaster