Koa wood is part of the Acacia family of trees and is recognized as one of the finest textured woods in the world. This native of Hawaii does not grow naturally anywhere else in the world. A tall tree growing to heights of 100 feet, the best Koa (Acacia koa) can be found specifically on higher elevations of the Big Island and take 50 to 70 years to mature. Interestingly, different parts of the island yield a distinctive hue to the color of the wood. In the Hawaiian language, Koa means brave, bold, fearless, or warrior.
In ancient Hawaii, Koa wood was harvested exclusively for royalty. Huge logs were crafted into sculpted images of gods, personal containers and canoes.
Given the unique color and beautiful wood grain of Koa wood, it is recognized as one of the finest textured woods in the world. Because of its highly figured grain, almost three dimensional in appearance, it was used to make among other things, cabinets, fine guitars, violin bows, ceremonial bowls, paddles, spears, and occasionally a cane shaft.
By the turn of the century 20th century, Koa was called the Hawaiian Mahogany and used extensively by the upper class and in government buildings for furniture, staircases and other wood works. Beautiful examples are still viewed in such places as the Iolani Palace.
Koa is also known as a “tonewood,” a term referring to woods believed to possess tonal properties, and therefore used in the construction of stringed instruments such as ukuleles and guitars.