Mānoa Heritage Center




Cyperus javanicus

Native Indigenous  

ʻAhuʻawa is native to tropical Africa, Asia, and Hawaiʻi.  Here it is found on all of the major islands except Kahoʻolawe. ʻAhuʻawa is common in marshes, loʻi kalo (taro patches), alongside streams and ditches, coastal pastures, rocky coastal sites, and cliffs. The fibrous roots of this plant make it great for controlling erosion. ‘Ahu‘awa is a sedge. Hawaiians pounded then dried the stems to access its fibers. The fibers were used to strain the pulp out of coconut and ʻawa- an intoxicant drink made from the pounded root of the ʻawa plant. One way to translate its name is ʻAhu – cloak, ʻAwa – Piper Methysticum; expressing its use as a strainer for ʻawa as mentioned previously. Fibers were also twisted into cordage.