A truly magnificent wood, Koa only grows in Hawaii, notably the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. But it’s even more rare than that sounds. Primarily because most of the Koa forests in Hawaii have been cleared for grazing pastures. So, the state passed a law making it illegal to cut down live Koa trees. Which means, today, most of the remaining, harvestable dead or decaying trees are only found in hard-to-access mountain locations.
The good news is, Hawaii is addressing the scarcity issue by planting new Koa plantations. But right now, those trees aren’t old enough to harvest yet.
Appearance wise, Koa is typically a reddish golden brown with dark streaks, often with an amazing golden luster. And it features excellent “chatoyancy” – a natural, bright shimmer or sheen – like no other wood. Koa’s grain is usually slightly interlocked, even wavy, creating a beautiful curly figure.
In most instances, Koa is easy to work with. It not only sands well, it stains and finishes beautifully. Which, combined with its mesmerizing, exotic qualities make Koa wood highly sought after for high-end furniture, cabinetry, veneer, architectural plywood, and musical instruments — especially guitars. It’s also used for canoes, gunstocks, carving, bowls, and other turned, specialty-wood objects.
The Big Island
Common / Alternative Names:
CITES Appendices: Not listed
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Listed a species of least concern.
Raspberry Jam (Acacia acuminata)
Mulga (Acacia aneura)
Brown Salwood (Acacia aulacocarpa)
Earpod Wattle (Acacia auriculiformis)
Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana)
Gidgee (Acacia cambagei)
Bendee (Acacia catenulata)
Formosan Koa (Acacia confusa)
Pink Gidgee (Acacia crombiei)
Creekline Miniritchie (Acacia cyperophylla)
Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata)
Green Wattle (Acacia decurrens)
Brown Lancewood (Acacia doratoxylon)
Ironwood Wattle (Acacia excelsa)
Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla)
Yarran (Acacia omalophylla)
Lightwood (Acacia implexa)
Koai’a (Acacia koaia)
Curracabah (Acacia leiocalyx)
Mangium (Acacia mangium)
Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii)
Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
Myall (Acacia pendula)
Waddywood (Acacia peuce)
Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
Spear Wattle (Acacia rhodoxylon)
Cooba (Acacia salicina)
Shirley’s Lancewood (Acacia shirleyi)
River Cooba (Acacia stenophylla)