Mānoa Heritage Center




Psilotum nudum

Native Indigenous

Although Moa is hard to “tame,” it is widely distributed because of its propagation through spores. Powder from spores was/is used as a laxative, talcum powder, and to treat thrush (dry throat). Fern tips made a beautiful addition to lei poʻo (lei for head). Moa is the Hawaiian word for “chicken” – perhaps the plant got its name due to the shape of its stems, which resemble chicken feet. The stems were picked to play a game called moa nahele (cock fighting), similar to the wishbone game, where the winner with the largest piece gets to crow aloud like a rooster. The common name for Moa is Upright Whiskfern.