There’s more to Hawaii sugarcane than just sugar. Kō, commonly known as Sugar Cane, is scientifically identified as Saccharum officinarum L., and it was introduced to Polynesia. This plant belongs to the Poaceae family, which is part of the Grass Family.

Hawaii Sugarcane Patch


– Hawaii Sugarcane

Kō is a large grass that produces a very sweet, yet fibrous pulp. Its long, linear leaves are lined with sharp hairs that can cause minor injury if handled roughly. If caught at the right season the feathery flowery stalks of Kō, called tassels, are a sight to see. Take some time to admire the difference in the colors and designs of the leaves and stems from different varieties of kō.

Hundreds of varieties of Hawaiian Kō have multiple uses for Hawaiian culture. A sweet snack, the fibrous nature of the stem pulp ironically does scrub teeth clean. The tassels of kō were used as darts in old times and certain kō were used in medicine and sorcery.

Hawaii Sugarcane Kō Information

Beyond cultural significance, sugar cane is also an important part of the commercial history of Hawaii. Nearly 200 years ago, land in and around Kahanu Garden in Hana, Maui was part of the Ka’eleku Plantation.

Hawaii Sugarcane Kahanu Garden


Quotes About Kō

“He papaʻa ke ko, paʻa ke aloha.”

The papaʻa is the sugar cane that holds fast to love.
Said of the papa’a variety of sugar cane, used in hana aloha sorcery.


“He laukona ke Kō, konākonā ke aloha.”

Laukona is the sugar cane; love is despised.
Laukona sugarcane was often used to free the victim of Hana aloha sorcery. Instead of falling madly in love, the victim grew to dislike the subject.


So, there you have it! The next time someone offers you fresh-pressed kō, you’ll know more about it and want to try it!

Hawaii Sugarcane Fresh Pressed


A big mahalo to Kahanu Garden for teaching us all about Kō.

Hawaii Sugarcane Kahanu Garden Aerial


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.