Status: No Known Specimens
Background Information: ‘Ainakea literally means “white (kea) pith/bagasse (‘aina)” or “white land (‘?ina).” According to Fornander this name refers to a particular episode in Hawaiian mythology: K?‘ula and K?ne, two powerful akua, practiced their sorcery on the people of Honua‘ula, Maui, and left the bodies of the dead strewn about and exposed. The duo added further insult by snacking on sugarcane grown by the victims to quench their thirst; since this time the cane has been called ‘Ainakea in reference to the white bones left bleaching in the sun. However, many l?‘au lapa‘au sources indicate that the name refers to the flesh of the cane, which is said to be the whitest of all Hawaiian canes – a particularly rare trait for a dark-skinned variety. An alternative name, Laenihi, refers generally to high-headed labroid fish of the genera Hemipteronotus and Iniistius. Another name, P?kea, is a quantifying term applied to Laenihi that refers to a whitish coloration and was used to denote a specific species of fish. ‘Ainakea was one of the few canes used in medicinal concoctions by the kahuna h?h?, and was important in the treatments for p?‘ao‘ao, ‘ea, hilo, and waiki.
Historical Description: ‘Ainakea is said to be [DE1] one of the prettiest Hawaiian canes, similar in appearance to ‘?hi‘a when it is young but lightening in color as it grows. It was often said to be one of the best-producing native cane varieties and was popular cane home gardens, particularly in dry and lowland areas.
Authored by: Noa Kekuewa Lincoln.
Please properly cite any use of information or graphics from this page.