Mānoa Heritage Center



Kō (Sugar Cane)

PC: Lianne Rozzelle

Saccharum officinarum

Polynesian Introduction

Sugar cane was a popular item in old Hawaiʻi and is still enjoyed today. Hawaiians extracted the juice to sweeten dishes and medicines, or simply chewed on the raw stalk as a refreshing snack. As kō was chewed, it scrubbed the teeth and gums clean with its fibrous quality. Hawaiians grew and named at least 49 different varieties. It was used as a source of fiber and thatching too. Kō is a kino lau of Kane.