Kalo Varieties

Which variety of kalo is the best? The one that's in the bowl on the table. - Jerry Konanui, Hawaiian Mahi‘ai

Use As Food

Makes light red poi of good quality; it is grown fairly extensively by families to eat at home.


Not planted a widely as ‘Ele‘ele Naioea but its distribution is quite general; chiefly under upland, dryland culture (mala).

General Characteristics

Medium in height, well spreading, maturing within 8 to 12 months, producing from 5 to 10 ‘ohā; characterized by practically light purplish-black Hā (Petiole) shading into yellowish-green at apex and light lilac-purple ‘i‘o kalo (Corm) flesh.

Ha (Petiole)

60 to 85 cm. long, drooping, light purplish-black on lower part shading into yellowish-green at apex, with an inconspicuous, narrow reddish edge, a dark reddish-purple ring at kohina (base) with dark lilac-purple for 3 to 4 cm. above.

Lau or Lu'au(Leaf Blade)

35 to 45 cm. long, 25 to 35 cm. wide, 25 to 35 cm, from tip to base of sinus (māwae), arrow-head shaped, medium green; margins wave-like (undulate); piko light brownish; round leaf section (lobes) acute (narrow) with medium cut lihi māwae (sinus).

'I'o kalo (Corm)

Flesh light lilac-purple; skin light reddish-purple.

Pua (Flower)

Hā (peduncle) blackish; flower cover (spathe) 22 to 25 cm. long, the lower tubular portion 3.5 to 4.5 cm long, yellowish-green tinged with brown, with purplish areas at kōhina (base) and at constriction (skinny part of flower), the upper portion yellowish, slightly open at maturity; spadix (spike of flower) 7 to 9 cm. long, the sterile appendage (tip of flower's spike) 6 to 7 mm. long.


The varieties in this ‘Ele‘ele group constituted the so-called "royal black taros" of the early Hawaiians. They mature usually within 8 months and are fairly high producers. The ‘i‘o kalo (Corm) must be harvested soon after maturity as they begin to rot very quickly. Even the huli deteriorate if held over for any length of time after harvesting.