H a w a i i



Near the northeast corner of the island, and along Kuhio Highway between Kilauea and Princeville is the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. What you see are fields of taro.

Taro is a tropical plant of the arum family and looks very similar to another member of the arum family that many of us are familiar with, the elephant's ear. The taro root is edible and grows in flooded fields somewhat like rice. Unlike rice, taro is a starchy tuber. In its prepared form it is called "poi" and for many years it was a staple of the Hawaiian diet and an integral part of their culture.

Poi, with its pasty and non-appetizing taste, is not eaten as much as it once was. This, plus being difficult to farm, has caused a significant reduction in the number of taro fields being cultivated. One side effect of fewer flooded fields is certain water foul have lost important nesting wetlands. This refuge is to serve two purposes: provide a nesting area for birds and keep part of the Hawaiian culture alive.
  Photo: 2000 A.D.

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