Kalo (Taro) - Maui Ocean Center

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Kalo (Taro)

Kalo was by far the most important plant to early Hawaiians. Kalo was the staple food through the main Hawaiian islands and is still consumed in large quantities to this day.


Kalo came in two forms; dryland and wetland. There were 300 varieties grown specifically for poi production. Poi was created by cooking the corm (root) of the Kalo and then pounded with water to create poi kalo.


Poi and fish were essential to the polynesian culture and came to Hawaii to be eaten with every meal. There are several varieties of Kalo; Hawaiians had poi that was purple, yellow, and white depending on which type they used.

Only men were allowed to cultivate and harvest Kalo. Ancient Hawai’i had a male dominant religion full of phallic symbolism like the Kalo, which were kapu for women to handle or even prepare for food.

common Name


Scientific Name

olocasia esculenta



where to find

From mauka to makai, different varieties can grow in lo’i (artificial ponds) or mala (dry patches), strongly dependent on the availability of water.

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