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

Almost exclusively for commercial poi; the poi is dark bluish-gray and is of excellent quality. The time of cooking is often twice as long as for other varietics. A good, fragrant odor (‘ala) is usually emitted when the ‘i‘o kalo (Corm) are cooked: hence the name ‘Ala is sometimes used, instead of Kāī, for this group. Observations seem to indicate that the Kāī varieties are more tolerant of alkaline conditions than any other group, and of stagnant water. They are also tolerant of deep or soft patches whereas most varieties require a firm, relatively shallow soil. There is evidence that Kāī are more resistant to soft rot.


Well-known and distributed throughout Hawaii, particularly on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. It is usually grown in areas which are inclined to be swampy or in deep patches.

General Characteristics

Medium in height, well spreading, maturing within 8 to 12 months, producing from 5 to 10 ‘ohā; Identified by light reddish- brown tinge of Hā (Petioles).

Ha (Petiole)

70 to 85 cm. long, diffused with light reddish-brown, conspicuously whitish to yellowish at edge, a dark reddish-purple ring at kōhina (base) with light pink for about 3 cm. above the base.

Lau or Lu'au(Leaf Blade)

45 to 55 cm. long, 30 to 40 cm. wide, 35 to 45 cm. from tip to base of sinus (māwae), narrowly egg-shaped (ovate), concave (curve inward), pendant, giving the impression of being slightly wilted, dark green; margins with numerous fine undulations; piko light green to faint purplish; veins light green on upper surface, usually light reddish-purple on lower; round leaf section (lobes) obtuse to slightly acute with wide, fairly deep lihi māwae (sinus).

'I'o kalo (Corm)

Flesh white tinged with lilac-pink, especially near the top (apex); skin pale pinkish-lilac.

Pua (Flower)

Hā (peduncle) yellowish flecked profusely with purple; flower cover (spathe) 18 to 20 cm. long, the lower tubular portion about 4 cm. long yellowish-green with slight purplish tinge, the upper portion deep yellow, open near constriction (skinny part of flower) at maturity and tightly rolled above; spadix (spike of flower) 7 to 8 cm. the sterile appendage (tip of flower's spike) 4 mm. long.