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Koa (Acacia koa)


A hard, golden-brown wood from the Hawaiian acacia tree, Acacia koa. The color and grain pattern of koa wood changes with growing conditions and tree age. The lightweight, but durable wood is brittle with variations in density. Koa is difficult to work or plane but carves well and polishes to a high gloss. It was the royal wood of the native Hawaiians and was used for everything in contact with the royal family. Koa is used for carvings, boats, dugout canoes, early surfboards, veneers, musical instruments, and furniture. A tannin extracted from the bark has been used for processing leather.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Acacia koa; black koa; curly koa; figured koa; Hawaiian mahogany; koaia; koa-ka; round log koa; square log koa; kaolaunui

Other Properties

Koa wood fluoresces in ultraviolet light. Specific gravity = 0.53 (green); 0.49 (dry). Resistant to insects and fungi.

Density 31-33 ppcf

Additional Information


Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Website address 1 Comment: www.si.edu/cal/acacia_koa.html