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Indigenous plants
Introduced plants
Domesticated animals
Growing seasons and weather knowledge
Farming methods and implements
Farming Sources

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Indigenous plants

When the first Polynesians arrived in Hawai`i, they found many native edible plants. Some of these continued to be gathered and used, but the settlers also set about planting stocks they had brought with them in their voyaging canoes. The eating of many indigenous plants – many possibly known from their homelands – was incorporated into their diets, saved for times of famine or for ritual or other specific uses.

Hawaiians ate hapu`u and other ferns, both their roots and young leaf shoots. Other roots and tubers were cooked and eaten in famine, including koali or morning glory (its vines were also sparingly eaten) and varieties of wild sweet potato and yam. Some wild berries were eaten raw including `akala or wild raspberry and `ohelo, a member of the huckleberry family that grows on low bushes at higher elevations.

`Ohi`a `ai, or mountain apple, was another wild fruit that could be eaten raw. The fruit of the noni tree was eaten only as a desperate measure, but it was used extensively for medicinal purposes. Hawaiians also harvested many types of edible seaweeds throughout the year.

 Sites for further information

Ethnobotany of the Ahupua`a (Kapi`olani Community College)

Meet the Plants (The National Tropical Botanical Garden)

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