Acacia koa is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, where it is the second most common tree. The highest populations are on Hawaiʻi, Maui and Oʻahu. Its name in the Hawaiian language, koa, also means brave, bold, fearless, or warrior.
The koa’s trunk was used by ancient Hawaiians to build waʻa (dugout outrigger canoes) and papa heʻe nalu (surfboards). Only paipo (bodyboards), kikoʻo, and alaia surfboards were made from koa, however; olo, the longest surfboards, were made from the lighter and more buoyant wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis). The reddish wood is very similar in strength and weight to that of Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), with a specific gravity of 0.55, and is sought for use in wood carving and furniture. Koa is also a tonewood, often used in the construction of ukuleles, acoustic guitars, and Weissenborn-style Hawaiian steel guitars. B.C. Rich used koa on some of their electric guitars as well, and still uses a koa-veneered topwood on certain models. Fender made limited edition koa wood models of the Telecaster and the Stratocaster in 2006. Trey Anastasio, guitarist for the band Phish, primarily uses a koa hollowbody Languedoc guitar. Commercial silviculture of koa takes 20 to 25 years before a tree is of useful size.
Janka Hardness: 1,170 lbf (5,180 N)
Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (610 kg/m3)