Caesalpinia kavaiensis

Common Names:
kawa'u, kea, uhiuhi
H. Mann
Growth Habit:
Tree, Shrub
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
National Tropical Botanical Garden

The conservation of Caesalpinia kavaiensis is fully sponsored.


There are four Caesalpinia species in Hawaii, three introduced and one endemic. Caesalpinia kavaiensis, or uhiuhi, was once fairly abundant on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui. The wood of C. kavaiensis is highly valued for its color, grain, and density. Hawaiians made spears with the wood and also a fishing implement known as laau melomelo or laau maklei. The past cutting of trees for these uses is likely not the contributing factor to its decline and current endangered status, as numbers have more recently declined as a result of grazing by introduced cattle, goats and sheep. However, because populations are now so small (only 32 individuals remain), the loss of even one tree for any purpose brings the species precipitously close to extinction.

C. kavaiensis, a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), is a tree that can grow up to 10 meters (33 ft) tall, with trunks that have dark gray bark with rough rectangular or oblong plates. The flowers are perfect (with both male and female organs) with a pink to rose calyx and red anthers borne in terminal racemes that are pink to red in color. C. kavaiensis has pink seedpods that are winged on one side, making this a very attractive tree. (Wagner et al. 1999)

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research