Swaying in the Breeze:  A Comprehensive Guide to the Management of Kiawe (Prosopis pallida) in Hawaii

Audience: Land Managers, Extension Agents, Private Landholders, Socially Responsible Investors, and the Health Conscious

Topics: Ecosystem Restoration, Ethnobotany, Hawaiian Studies, Living Systems Design, Honey Production, Bio-energy, and Agriculture


Integrated Living Systems Design

By: Neil Logan © 2007

PO Box 2683

Kamuela, HI 9743






Section I: Introduction to the tree, origins in the state, origins in the world, botanical differentiation, entomology, mycology, interactions with native plants/ecosystems, statement of goals for the manual


Section II:  Products, chemistry, medicinal potential, physical properties and lumber, marketing – pods, leaves, wood, api-products, gum, et al.


Section III: Management Guide including Puakō Site and Economic Analysis


Section IV: Global Implications, Summary, Appendix, Citations




 “The algarroba, or kiawe is commonly recognized as the most valuable tree which has thus far been introduced to the territory of Hawaii” (Esbenshade 1980). “In the opinion of the retired Deputy State Forester, Colonel L.W. Bryan, the kiawe is still the most valuable tree ever introduced into the Hawaiian Islands” (Esbenshade 1980). “Prosopis juliflora and Prosopis pallida (kiawe) are two of the most economically and ecologically important tree species in arid and semi-arid zones of the world” (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). “Kiawe has potential for cultivation in arid coastal environments with saline soils and rainfall that may not exceed 254 mm per annum. Thus two of the kiawe’s principal values are tolerance of brackish water and ability to survive in arid environments” (Esbenshade 1980). Kiawe has incredible medicinal potential that can benefit Hawaiians suffering from diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. Its honey is of pharmaceutical value and its pods may be crucial components to modern sustainable food and energy systems. The dense wood makes excellent biofuel, post and lumber material. We need only to understand kiawe on a deeper level, appreciate its gifts and harness its potential. “The development of a multiple-use management program for the remaining woodlands would be very attractive economically” (Esbenshade 1980). This guide will be useful to: Land Managers, Extension Agents, Private Landholders, Socially Responsible Investors, Health Conscious Consumers and anyone interested in Ecosystem Restoration, Ethnobotany, Hawaiian Studies, Living Systems Design, Honey Production, Bio-energy, and Agriculture.


The leeward coasts of all islands in the state of Hawaii tend to be arid to semi-arid, subtropical/tropical climates. “The leeward sides of the islands typically receive less than 1,250 mm (50”) of annual precipitation, and some areas have less than 250mm (10”) per year.” (Cuddihy and Stone 1990) Due to the lack of water and intense sun, native trees have grown and evolved slowly. The leeward coast is home to the rarest, most endangered of Hawaiian ecosystems. Unique plants have been slow to develop in harsh conditions, often on bare lava with little moisture.  When the trees in this ecosystem are cut recovery tends to be slow. Lack of moisture and soil makes the leeward coast ecosystems exceptionally fragile and susceptible to irrecoverable damage. Most of the lower elevation (below 2000’) leeward coast ecosystem has already been destroyed. With many billions of dollars in development slated for the leeward coast these ecosystems will need all the help they can get. Currently, the “Willi Willi” (Erythrina sandwichensis) trees are rapidly declining in numbers due to a gall wasp that has plagued the Pacific and all species in the genus native and non-native alike. Great efforts are being made to preserve this genus by use of systemic treatments injected into the base of the trunk. Along with Koaia, Uhi Uhi and Mamane, this tree was the major pioneering legume species of the leeward coast. Loss of the genus means a gap in its eco-niche, which needs to be filled. Sandalwood, Curley Koa, Naio, Willi Willi, Hala Pepe, and others at one time, covered much of the leeward coast. The unsustainable harvesting of Sandalwood lead to nearly complete deforestation and major changes to the hydrology. A picture of what this ecosystem looked like before the arrival of humans is quite fuzzy. “Perhaps because of a history of human disturbance, the vegetation of the dry leeward zone is more fragmented and difficult to characterize than that of wet windward zones.” (Cuddihy and Stone 1990) There are reference sites scattered amongst the islands that can offer clues and direction for rehabilitation.


There were 60,730 ha (~150,000 acres) of kiawe in the state of Hawaii in 1962. That figure has most certainly been reduced due to leeward coast development. Kiawe does not pose nearly the threat to the leeward coast ecosystem, as do resorts and residences. In fact, the leeward coast ecosystem has been ravaged since before the arrival of the first Hawaiians by lava. The haole [caucasian] invasion only represents the third wave and much of the original plant communities have already been lost. Creating a picture of what the former ecosystem was like is difficult now. The original pioneering species may have been Acacias like the lowland Koa varieties, types of Ohia, Sandalwoods, and many other trees, shrubs and vines. Many of those trees are not thriving in the lowland coastal ecosystems due to insect predation and human disruption. Native pioneering, nitrogen fixing species like the “Willi Willi” are seriously threatened as of this writing by a gal wasp predating all members of the genus Erythrina. In any case, Kiawe is now the dominant species. It is not invasive necessarily, although it can be in the absence of other long-standing naturalized species. In Hawaii, Kiawe is simply filling a niche with little to no competition. It is doing what it always has; breaking cracks in hard soil and lava, building soil, creating shade and humidity for other plants to have an opportunity to grow up after it.


Kiawe is a rapid colonizer of hot, dry, open areas with few competitor plants, especially after the loss of Erythrina. Most productive from 1000’ or less elevation yet pioneering it’s way up to 2000’. One of its strengths is that it can live where few others can, colonizing barren land, lava, sand dunes, or any other harsh, arid, conditions it may find itself in as long as there is a source of subterranean water. Kiawe has a determined taproot which can widen existing cracks in lava and hard compacted dirt, reaching for water deep below. By literally breaking ground, kiawe pioneers the ecosystem grabbing hold of water tables that have sunk deep into the earth. This makes it possible for new plants to penetrate the soil, take root and uptake nutrients. Kiawe is gradually covering the surface of the leeward coasts up to 2000’. Its spread has actually slowed with the decrease in cattle ranching. Kiawe is not native to Hawaii and was introduced by human hands. While technically it is considered an invasive species and therefore subject to eradication measures, it should be reconsidered in light of the evidence. Kiawe is only doing what it does naturally – colonizing an area with little vegetation and making soil for new plants to follow. In the case of Hawaii, the normal inhabitants of the niche kiawe currently occupy are not available, non-existent, or currently fending major predation. Kiawe on the other hand has few formidable opponents other than man. Kiawe will grow with its roots in the ocean or as a high as 2,000 feet elevation.


The allelophathic potential of Kiawe does exist although it is low and can be mitigated by cutting a furrow around the drip line to contain the roots, by harvesting the fruits and by regular pruning (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). In well-managed gardens, Kiawe is not a problem. In fact, regenerating native ecosystems with the aid of Kiawe may be possible, if done correctly. If left alone and with access to resources Kiawe will form dense thickets, which will shade out almost anything below. This status is not permanent. The forest is in a state of flux and will eventually fall apart, rot, and create soil that other species may use for growth, leaving behind some large trees and a seed bank in the soil. In the case of fire, the forest will burn and the seeds in the soil can regenerate or seeds from trees not burned will regenerate. In this way the building and conservation of soil occurs. Tall kiawe trees have a propencity for being blown over by strong winds. Once other trees taller than kiawe emerge or if the kiawe is kept pruned and allowed to be overtaken by other trees the shade from those trees will begin to weaken the kiawe. The accumulation of a thick, rich hummusy soil layer and the presence of shade from newly emerging trees through the kiawe canopy heralds the end of Kiawe primacy and the beginning of a long-term, more diverse and stable forest. Working with Kiawe is made more difficult by the presence of cultural sites and historical trails common in the leeward coast of the state. Many of these sites are degraded by the large kiawe root systems cracking rock art and walls. When Kiawe doesn’t successfully tap water they may die back or die completely leaving behind standing, dry dead wood. Pieces like these make perfect ladder fuels standing amongst dry buffel and fountain grasses. What may begin only as a grass fire grabs hold of the dead wood and moves into the crown of nearby trees. Crown fires are rapidly spreading fires, often quite difficult to stop unless they have completely exhausted their fuel source. For this reason Kiawe contributes to fire danger along the developing leeward coasts and needs to be addressed. Making kiawe fire safe is a simple matter of pruing and removing fuels from the ground. By removing or reducing the wood lying on the ground, pruning all low lying branches up to 10’ and by selecting, when possible, for a single trunk will make a kiawe tree relatively fire safe. This is because ground fires will not tend to kill a large kiawe tree as long as there are no hot burning fuels around the trunk and no way to get into the crown of the tree. Small trees will be lost but replaced soon there after by the surviving trees.


Native plants have demonstrated fire resistance. Native plant restoration amongst kiawe is promoted here in as a first option. There are many places where kiawe has arrived that can take advantage of its presence as a shade/nurse tree, nitrogen fixer, and fruit-baring tree. Below will be discussed options that caring land stewards in Hawaii can choose for how to manage kiawe as a non-competing nurse tree for native plants, or an agroforestry crop and landscape shade tree. We can choose to accept the gift of kiawe to help restore our threatened ecosystems and heal our people.  This guide is written so that we may be better equipped to work with the kiawe tree, understand what it is doing here and what it’s gifts are for the people of Hawaii. Sometimes in this guide references will be made to related species as there may not be data available specific to Kiawe. As a genus Prosopis has been generally found to be similar in its properties. This guide aims to be as specific to Kiawe in Hawaii as possible.





          The genus Prosopis is found in arid and semi-arid, temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climates around the world. The most common tropical species have originated in Central and South America. Progeny has spread by way of humans and other animals forever.  Two tropical species in particular have found their way throughout the ravaged arid soils of the planet. Prosopis juliflora and P. pallida both originated nearby each other. Their ranges overlap somewhere around northern Peru and Southern Ecuador. Because the two are so similar they are now referred to as a species complex with many varietal forms. Kiawe (P. pallida) originates mostly from Peru. (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001)

In Hawaii it has been botanically classified as Prosopis pallida (Humboldt & Bonpland ex Willdenow) H.B.K. of which there are two forms: forma armata (thorny) and forma pallida (thornless). Forma pallida is native to southern Peru near Bolivia and forma armata is native to an area closer to the border of Ecuador overlapping with the range of P. juliflora. Generally, P. pallida is considered to have shorter to non-existent spines, sweeter pods with a tendency to display a straight trunk, while P. juliflora has stout, long spines with a broad, multi-stemmed crown and bitter pods. The leaflets of forma pallida tend to be more compact with a more clustered bunch look while the leaflets of forma armata tend to be longer with greater space between individual leaflets. The leaf characteristics are an important way to distinguish the two forms from a distance. The tree in Hawaii probably originated from somewhere in Peru where the two forms ranges overlap creating a hybrid. Or maybe there was in fact more than one tree or species planted. The latter is quite possible seeing as how Prosopis have self-incompatible flowers. True Mesquite, (Prosopis glandulosa), may be or have been in Hawaii. “Seed of this tree may have been planted on Molokai’i and in other localities.” (Fosberg, 1966) This species is the more temperate cousin of kiawe and would be expected to grow at much higher elevations up to the frost zone. There is little evidence to support the existence of P. glandulosa in Hawaii.

For at least the past 150 years, Prosopis spp. have been spread in conjunction with cattle. In most cases the species being spread was indiscriminately selected resulting in a mixture of inferior genetics with a few elite varieties lost amongst the mix. P. pallida displays the most preferred characteristics from the human utility perspective. Most everywhere else on the planet where the tropical Prosopis species complex has been introduced it is thoroughly mixed. P. pallida usually comprises a low percentage of the mix. In Hawaii however, kiawe is considered to be perhaps the purest stand of P. pallida outside of its native range in Peru. Hawaii is fortunate to have been gifted the premier tropical Prosopis variety from a human perspective. In India, the tree we know as a thornless kiawe (P. pallida) is sometimes found. When one of these select specimens is found, the people will often cut down everything around it to give preferential treatment to the best specimens. Kiawe (P. pallida) is found in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, Puerto Rico, Papua New Guinea (Perry 1998) and seed from Hawaii has been shipped to Australia and elsewhere in Oceania.

How the tree arrived in Hawaii is somewhat controversial. The story most spread is that of the first Catholic priest being the source of the original plantings on Oahu. Father Alexis Bachelot a Catholic Priest who planted one tree germinated from a seed obtained from the Jardin du Roi de Paris circa 1827 not directly from Mexico or Chile as has been presumed. “Seed … was thought to have originally come from Brazil” (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). One report says the priest planted 4 cuttings and only one lived (Wilcox 1910). The tree was planted in December, 1828, in the north corner of the Fort Street Catholic church yard in Honolulu near Beretania street. “By 1837 there were already several algarroba trees from the seed of the first one” (Wilcox 1910 and Yzendoorn 1927). “As the worn down missionary left his mission house never again to return to it, he looked upon the plant with moistened eyes and said as though prophetically: ‘Even as this young tree by Divine Providence will thrive and cover the whole of the island with its shade,’ etc.” (Wilcox 1910). The original tree was severely topped in 1906. The 92-year-old tree had a diameter at breast height of 3 feet 3 inches until it was cut down in 1919, the stump proudly displaying a plaque. (Fosberg 1966)

The problem with this story is that the seeds usually come in pods that contain several seeds and it is very difficult to remove the seeds from the pod so that most likely the priest would have had a pod and that pod would have contained several seeds and therefore more than one seed would have been available to planting. Some locals talk story about how the priest brought the spiny tree so the Hawaiians couldn’t run around barefoot on the beach. It is likely that the seed may have originated from a spineless tree but because it was propagated from seed it retained its entire potential genetic heritage both spiny forms, non-spiny forms and intermediates alike. William Paris (2006) believes that along with the knowledge of how to salt butter and make wine from grapes in Holualoa, the Portuguese brought Kiawe with them from the Azores as a useful tool in the rearing of livestock. P. pallida is not known from the Azores. Other reports exist of the kiawe being brought here originally by Magellan. The explorer’s notebook and other essentials were found near Keholo bay, Island of Hawaii (Anonamous). The name “algaroba”, still used by some ranchers today, indicates a Portuguese origin. Large branches containing wild beehives, ripe and unripe flowers and pods piled on ships would have enabled the tree and its ecology to travel far and wide.

Whether by fate or good fortune, P. pallida has been in Hawaii since at least 1828 and does not appear to be leaving. Originally, it spread principally as a shade tree for landscaping. Later the Paniolo accelerated the spread via horses and cows. It “now covers vast areas on the different islands… of land… which formerly was totally worthless for other purposes” (Fosberg 1966). “The small, horny seeds are not crushed while passing through the alimentary system but rather are prepared for quick germination by the action of the digestive fluids. The spread of the tree in these islands has, therefore, been due solely to stock and by this means the algarroba has become a wild forest tree. It is estimated that it would have cost at least one million dollars to plant by human agency the 80,000 odd acres in these islands which have been covered with more or less density by algarroba forests…this wonderful and comparatively rapid spread of the tree has been accomplished without the expenditure of one cent for planting.” (Fosberg 1966) “It may safely be said that no introduced tree has been of greater benefit to the islands than the algarroba, one of the mesquites or kiawe as it is locally called.” (Fosberg 1966)


When 70 half-sib Prosopis families of diverse origins in Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, and the United States were evaluated in a Haitian coastal environment, the Peruvian Prosopis were the tallest, straightest, and some were thornless, after four year’s growth. In addition, the same half-sib Peruvian Prosopis families were the tallest and straightest in an interior- Indian-desert progeny trial with over 200 Prosopis families. A comprehensive genetic evaluation of all major sections of the genus Prosopis in Cape Verde also found this Prosopis family to be the fastest growing with the best form. Since this genetic source of Prosopis has been the top biomass producer, with the best form, on three continents with very different climates, it is clear that major programs should be undertaken to evaluate this material in many new locations and to rapidly multiply the genetic material for distribution (Tewari 2000).


It appears as though if ever one were to have a tropical Prosopis infestation this would be the preferred species to have. Hawaii is truly blessed. “The value of waste land has increased manifold on account of the algarroba, and what would Honolulu be without the algarroba as a shade tree? A boon to the stockmen, the standby of the apiarist, and the chief support of the wood dealer, the algarroba has well earned its place as the most valuable tree in Hawaii today.” (Fosberg 1966)



Traditional Ecological Knowledge (Ethnobotany)


Humans have used Prosopis since at least 6500 BC for food, fuel and basic raw materials (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). Prosopis wood has been found in tombs in many archaeological sites in Peru dating as far back as 2500 BC, to the earliest known site of the Upper Archaic Peruvian cultures (D’Antoni and Solbrig 1977).  In Arizona, USA, bedrock mortars have been found around Casa Grande that contains holes. It is now believed that these are special implements designed to grind Prosopis pods into flour liberating the high quantities of protein inside (Nabhan 1987). The Ancient Hohocom culture of Arizona used water-harvesting techniques including an extensive ditch system to flood irrigate crops like corn, tepary beans and squash at the edges of large Mesquite Bosques (groves) (Nabhan 1987). For the Pima Indians and others, Mesquite was referred to as the tree of life (Rea 1978) in (Cornejo et al.)

Mesquite fruits (“kiawe” pods) and prickly pear pads and fruits (“panini”) played an important role in their diets and often benefited from the water diverted to crops at the forest edge. The original name of Prosopis in North America is ‘misquitl’, from the use of tree bark as a tanning agent. The bark of which contains 14-16% catechol tannins (Doat 1978). In North America, Mesquite is found as far north as Albuquerque New Mexico south to the dry lands north of the valley of Mexico (Nabhan 1987)

There is a story from Mexico that states that the Conquistadors brought with them a curse of sterility upon the plain of Anáhuac that destroyed the Aztec’s ancient chocolate groves and left in their place forests of Mesquitl (Mims 1998). Did the Mesquite serve as an overstory tree for the Chocolate along with “Madre de Cacao”? Did the Spanish destroy the Chocolate trees because the Aztecs used their beans as money? Perhaps the Mesquite colonized the newly opened sunny areas created after the Spanish burned the Chocolate Orchards to the ground. In North America today most people are familiar with the weedy invader Mesquite. Known for its aromatic wood that imparts a unique flavor to whatever is cooked with it. Mesquite has been enjoying a modern resurgence in North America. Cattle ranchers in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are growing tired of fighting it and are now learning to live with and even capitalize on Mesquites propensity for covering barren land. In fact, silvopastoral systems utilize Mesquites nitrogen fixation properties, shade and forage for the benefit of cattle and rangeland. If managed correctly the trees end up bringing many useful attributes to harsh climates and a boon to the local economy.

Clearly, Prosopis has been with humans for a long time – perhaps since before the discovery of language. Linguistically, we can see the deep, long standing relationship between humans and Prosopis. Within the names for Prosopis is encoded ecological information regarding the plant-human co-evolution and a deep understanding of the ways in which Prosopis weaves its way into the environment. In the more southerly tropical climates of the Americas, Prosopis pallida is known by many modern common names: algarroba, Algarrobo, huarango, tamarango huarango, Peruvian Prosopis, Tropical Mesquite (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001; Tewari 2000). Kiawe originated from the dry eastern Andean coastal regions of Peru. Kiawe (Prosopis pallida) is a human food of antiquity. Pre-Inca cultures from Peru named this tree Ta-co, which meant “food crop,” and before sugar cane arrived, ancient Peruvians drank “yupisín,” a sweet beverage made by adding water to ground ripe pods. The importance of the tree to the Quechua speaking Inca can be seen clearly in the words used for Prosopis pallida. ‘Thacco’ or ‘Taco’ has been interpreted as ‘the tree’ or ‘the one’; a reference to it being the most common or important tree species in the area. ‘Guarango’ and ‘huarango’ are other Quechua words used to refer to P. pallida. In Peru, several names are applied to ‘algarrobo’ to designate specific varieties with unique features or uses. ‘Sambito’ or ‘zambito’, meaning “curled” refers to densely foliated trees with small leaflets. The farmer or “cholito” variety tends to be more thornless with larger leaflets. More prostrate or bush like trees are known as ‘achaparrado’. “Cachito” is a word that means “small horn”; a reference to those trees with curved pods (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). “Pava” is a descriptive term that means “female turkey” and is used for trees with pods that have a purple or red color rather than the usual yellow-gold. (Díaz Celis 1995; Cruz 1998).

A piece of pottery from pre-contact Peru originating from the Moche culture dated circa 900 bc may depict Prosopis, or a related leguminous species of human significance, Anadenanthera spp., being relished by deer (Sharon and Donan 1974). When the Spaniards arrived on the South American Coast, they found that the Indians of Peru, Chile, and Argentina, included Prosopis pods in their diets (Silva 1990). In the past syrup of Prosopis was known to give strength to the weak or sick. Currently in Peru, sweet syrup with the consistency of honey called Algarrobina is obtained by extracting sugar from the Prosopis fruits in water (Bravo 1998). The aqueous sugar water is then concentrated to syrup, which is sometimes added to Pisco Brandy and milk as a cocktail or used as an expectorating delivery medium for medicines. Ancient people of Peru talk about another product, yupisin, a beverage obtained in the same way as algarrobina, but is not concentrated. It is consumed directly or used to prepare desserts with sweet potato flour or corn flour. Today, Yupisin is consumed only in rural areas; it has not been commercialized (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). A fermented chicha like beverage is made from the fruits in Peru known as “Aloja”. In Chile, a refreshment called "anapa" is prepared from Mesquite pods (Habit et al., 1981). In Mexico, "mezcal", a distilled drink produced from Mesquite pods, is popular, like the "algarrobina cocktail" in Peru (Del Valle et al. 1987). However, the most extended use of this fruit nowadays is as animal forage.

Various people have also known the tree as “honey pod”, “honey locust”, “cshaw”, and “july flower” (Judd 1916). The most common name throughout Latin America is “algarroba” which comes from “Al-kharrubah,” the Spanish name for the carob tree, or St. John’s bread, the pods of which it resembles in flavor (Judd 1916). When the Spanish first came into contact with the tree in all of the different locales throughout the Americas they noticed the similarities in form, taste and use to the Carob Tree from back home. Still today, Prosopis pod flour is marketed as being of similar quality and use as Carob. In the French Marqesas Islands “carobier” (Carob) is used similar to the Spanish “Algaroba” (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001).

In Hawaii, “Kiawe” means to sway in the breeze. “Kia” is defined as a pillar, post, prop, mast of ship.  nvi. A streak; to stream gracefully, as rain in the wind; to sway, as branches. Ka ua kiawe i luna o ka lā au, the rain streaming down on the tree. Ho o.kiawe Caus/sim. Kiawe ‘ula n. Faint Streak of red, as in the rainbow or in clouds. The English Hawaiian Dictionary defines kiawe as:  a tree with wood used to smoke meat. 2. to stream, as rain, to sway. Neal (1991) lists kiawe as: Algaroba tree (Prosopis pallida), a legume from Peru, first planted in 1828 in Hawaii, where, in dry areas, it has become one of the commonest and most useful trees (Neal 1991). If you want to understand the name for kiawe in Hawaii, go sit under one for a while. Listen and watch as the tree sways in the breeze letting out little creeks and wispers. “Here I am, the kiawe. I offer myself to you. Will you see me? Will you appreciate my gifts?” A dance performance entitled Me KeAloha Na Pua O Ka Kiawe means for the love of the flower of the Mesquite. Everywhere Prosopis spreads people are forced to adapt to it. Hawaiians learned to manage it with pigs, and by using the valuable firewood. It is known locally as an excellent fence post being dense, sturdy and not prone to rot even after many decades in very wet regions. Locals consider kiawe a good wood but not as good as Koa. In fact kiawe has proven to be both denser and more dimensionally stable than Koa (SCMRE 2002). Hawaiians, named the tree based on observation of kiawe in its preferred island ecosystem and its function with regards to humans. One of the important uses of the tree is encoded in the name.


In her opening address to a Prosopis Conference in India, Maui native, Betty Alberts of the National Academy of Sciences reflected upon her childhood experiences with kiawe:


I was lucky enough to have been brought up in the Hawaiian islands, on the island of Maui, where Prosopis, better known in Hawaii as the kiawe, which means to sway, dominated much of our landscape. The trees grew along the sandy beaches, in the semiarid lowlands (much to the dismay of the sugar-plantation operators), and on volcanic elevations used for cattle ranching up to about 2,000 feet. The Prosopis (or kiawe) was always considered both a nuisance due to its rugged ability to survive to the detriment of cash crops and a blessing for what it could provide that is, shelter, windbreaks, firewood, and, of course, animal feed.

Since the 1960s to the late 1980s, many of the kiawe forests along the south and western shores of Maui were removed to make way for tourist development and the big hotels. Some of the smarter hoteliers and golf-course architects left stands of kiawe here and there after they realized that erosion was occurring along with rapid development. They found, in many cases, that lush tropical vegetation could not replace the kiawe for wind protection and privacy. Water for those tropical plants was a major problem when compared to the needs of the kiawe.

On the north shore, where I grew up, the kiawe still dominates our beaches (thank goodness), providing excellent windbreaks and shade from the hot sun. I have mostly pleasant memories from my childhood associated with the kiawe. I'm reminded of the many good times at the beach collecting kiawe wood for barbecues. As Girl Scouts, we sought out kiawe wood for campfires and used the greener sticks for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. Kiawe wood always made everything taste better.

I even made money from the kiawe tree. At the very back of our yard in Paia, Maui, and along many of the nearby cane fields were large kiawe trees. During the summer holidays, beginning about age seven, I would fill huge burlap bags with those yellow beans that the farmers bought from us kids to feed the animals. It took each of us about two hours to fill a big bag and we made about 25 cents per bag big bucks in those days. I loved the sweet smell of those beans contrasted with the smell of burlap sacks and, occasionally, ate a bean or two, thinking that the animals weren't so bad off. Those tastes and sweet sensations have persisted in my memory to this day. The pleasant memories are, however, punctuated with some pain, such as the day that my friends and I were playing in and around the kiawe trees that were in full bloom. We each proceeded to be stung by an irate bee, and as I started to run away I stepped on a huge old thorn which penetrated into the base of my big toe. My mother rushed me to the plantation clinic, as part of the thorn still remained in my foot. Insult was added to injury as I received a painful shot to numb my foot to remove the thorn tip and, then, received a tetanus shot as well. Between the bee sting, my injured toe, and the tetanus shot, I was miserable for several days and I'm sure I still have part of the thorn in my foot.

What a boon to reforestation of the desert my old friend the kiawe, destined for the Thar Desert, and the trees I saw were thornless. All the pleasure without the pain. (Felker and Moss 1996)


In Southern India P. pallida is considered the preferred variety and is referred to as an “exotic thornless vilayati babool”. When these trees are found standing amongst the other thorny and more weedy relatives, the people cut down all the other trees around it thereby selecting for da kine!



Botany & Ecology


Research points to Africa as the origin of all tropical legumes (Raven and Polhill 1981). Prosopis species are believed to have evolved circa 70 million years ago. By that time, the original supercontinent of Gondwanaland had fragmented. (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001) Most of the present day species developed in the Americas. The genus Prosopis is an ancient member of the sub-family Mimosoideae (Burkart 1976 in Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). Prosopis may have descended from Adenanthera or Pseudoprosopis. Both genera are characterized by producing self-splitting legume fruits. The sweet fleshy fruits of Prosopis don’t split but have selected for dispersal by mega-fauna (Burkart 1976). The Genus Prosopis is a Greek word that means “a kind of plant”. The specific epithet pallida is a Latin word that means pale, a reference to the pale yellow fruit (Borror 1960). Prosopis pallida (synonym P. limensis) is a native of the eastern Andes of Peru, Columbia, and Ecuador along the dry Pacific coast. “The nitrogen fixing trees of the Prosopis juliflora/P. pallida complex are among the most adaptable and fastest growing trees in the truly tropical arid regions and have been naturalized in semi-arid tropics in Latin America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Sahelian Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Australia” (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). Koa and Kiawe are of the same family but of different tribes. Physically, Kiawe has been analyzed and found to be denser and more dimensionally stable than Koa. They occupy different ecosystems but similar marketing niches.

Like many legumes kiawe harbors beneficial bacteria (Rhizobium spp.) that fix atmospheric nitrogen. Many of the Legumes such as Prosopis or Acacia koa are known to harbor Rhizobium bacterium, which they use to “fix” atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. The bacteria nodulate on the roots and breathe nitrogen from the air around them into their tissues which they can then use to produce food for themselves or to share with their host tree. P. juliflora is related to the cowpea group of Rhizobium bacterium nodulators. This mutually symbiotic relationship helps both organisms to thrive in environments which might other wise be hostile. Kiawe is a pioneering, nitrogen fixing tree (NFT), a legume by pedigree. Trees of this kind come forth after a disaster to populate seriously damaged or newly created ecosystems by creating topsoil, shade and most importantly in the case of lava; cracks for other plants to revegetate through. P. pallida grows well in high rainfall zones as well as areas receiving <250 mm. Kiawe does not depend on rainfall for its water needs. Rather, it prefers to tap groundwater supplies with deep roots or absorb water through its leaves (Geesing et al. 1983).

The small light yellow flowers (~6 mm long) are borne on a raceme containing an average of 300+ flowers. The racemes tend to cluster along the branches. The flowers are 3 times longer than the leaves. The pollinated flowers form bean pods – a kind of legume fruit. The fruits of forma pallida are large and the fruits of forma armata are small. The fruits of both forms display parallel margins. Botanists know that the Prosopis pallida trees are hermaphroditic by the structures of their flowers. At least 25+% of all the trees tend to express spinelessness. (Fosberg 1966) Sapwood tends to be more yellowish in color and older wood is deep brown-red in color. As mentioned above, forma armata is described as displaying fierce thorns and forma pallida displays short thorns or no thorns at all.

Local Hawaiian lore states that the trees are both male and female. Most of the kiawe trees in the forest are male and the wood is colored red and very hard but the trees can change sex when necessary and the wood becomes yellow and softer. Locals will tell you that the yellow-stained, softer wood is of the female trees and the deep-red, harder wood is of the male. Most trees are male until a female is needed – then the tree spontaneously goes female to produce off spring. Some believe the males have thorns and the females are thornless.


“Because the entire population of Kiawe in Hawaii is originally from one tree, inbreeding has been intensive. One possible recessive characteristic of the population is thornlessness. Although most kiawe trees have thorns with strong spines often 2.5 cm (1 in) long, an estimated 25 percent of the mature trees produce only small, hard stipules rather than long, spike like spines at the twig nodes. The thornless characteristic has been noted for years, and as early as 1937, Hawaii shipped seed from thornless kiawe trees to Cuba, Arabia, Australia, Fiji, and South Africa. Attempts have been made to breed for thornlessness, but have so far been unsuccessful. Thornless trees can be propagated by air layering of mature twigs. Some other Prosopis spp. also exhibit thornlessness among individuals in the populations. Thornlessness can be seen in some or all of these other species when they are only 3 to 4 months old.” (Skoleman 2005)


Thus, trees from seed will not be true to the parental type. (Felker and Patch 2005) For example seedlings from thornless trees are both thorny and thornless (Felker and Patch 2005) Some people have observed that the trees will become thorny when stressed and that is why the trees with their roots in constant water and which are not cut often mellow out and become thornless. Is this true – is it possible to cut trees that are thornless and they resprout with thorns? The spiny feature may be genetically dominant – “The relationship, however, does not seem to be a simple Mendelian one, if the original introduction was spineless and since a series of intergrades in length of spines may be found.” (Fosberg 1966)

It has been observed that columnar cacti have different morphology based on environmental conditions. While in full sun they tend to express large spines. When in shade the thorns reseeds or are de-emphasized. Could there be a similar case for kiawe? Some have remarked that kiawe tend to be thornless when close to the ocean and more thorny the further away from the ocean they are. This is obviously not true, as thornless forms are known many miles inland. Must have male and female trees to pollinate (Dawsett 2006). Despite their widespread occurrence, seed from a genetic improvement program is not available. Peruvian Prosopis has rapid growth, erect form and high survival rate. (Alban 2002)

In North America several Prosopis spp. Fall under the common name Mesquite. Mesquite is the temperate cousin of Kiawe. The pods are generally less sweet but have been used for millennium by people indigenous to its range.  Kiawe is morphologically and compositionally similar to P. juliflora, and found most commonly in desert areas of Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and other South American countries. In Hawaii it thrives at 800-1000 feet on the leeward coast of all islands. “Thrives best at lower altitudes…and it is found in some localities at altitudes as high as two thousand feet. Apparently it is gradually becoming acclimated to the higher elevations, but it bears most abundantly at lower levels” (Fosberg 1966). “P. pallida is strictly tropical and does not survive frost” (Alban 2002). Altitude (m) - 0-300, Rainfall (mm) - 250-1,250, Temp. (oC) - -2 to hot, Frost tolerance – Sensitive, Soil requirements – Adaptable, Pests and diseases  termites, wood boring insects,  Coppicing, grows 8-20 m in height with a trunk of 60-80 cm in diameter abundant pods 12-24 cm long (FAO Ecology and Management)



Ecological Succession, Eradication and Management


As stated above, kiawe thrives best in the coastal strand. This ecosystem has been altered perhaps more than any other in Hawaii. Original Hawaiians first settled along the western coast and gradually moved up slope. (Cuddihy and Stone 1990) Hawaiians first landed in this ecosystem. They immediately altered it. “The original pre-Hawaiian vegetation of this site complex – and of the entire xerotropical region- is clothed in obscurity. Whatever it had been, we can assume the Hawaiians themselves had more or less completely destroyed it, and in the absence of suitable pioneer species, either indigenous or introduced, the land became essentially barren. Numerous reports of the early explorers perhaps exaggerated-state that the coastal plain was a desert, dry, parched, subject to dust storms, in part a grassland with scattered trees and shrubs.” (Egler 1947) “Fire was the primary tool used by Hawaiians to clear lands prior to cultivation” (Cuddihy and Stone 1990). The most powerful tool the original Hawaiians had for altering the landscape was fire. Fire and then cattle have played important roles in the development of kiawe woodlands. “Whereas fire is not necessarily fatal to a mature tree it is deadly to seedlings and small trees up to about five years of age (Hastings and Turner 1965). Grazing by cattle thins grasses and gives Prosopis seedlings a chance to become established by reducing competition with the grasses and making range fires less intense.” (Cornejo et al.) “Kiawe seedlings, 0.5-1.5 m high, grow so densely that competition among themselves is a decisive factor in the form of each. For these and related reasons, it is believed that the bulk of the present kiawe originated under intensive over grazing, on an essentially bare soil, under full light, by seeds excreted by animals and trampled into the ground during the wet season.” (Egler 1947) “The existing kiawe forest became established under conditions which now are being duplicated only rarely. The density of the stands, the uniform age of the trees, and the erect and relatively straight boles indicate a high degree of competition among young trees which is not in accord with the present reproducing ability of kiawe.” (Egler 1947) “The form is that of a tall apple tree, and the appearance of the interior of the forest is often that of an orchard so closely spaced trees that the canopy is complete. The homogenizing influence of this tree on the local site has created large areas of uniform conditions, and these in turn have been invaded by various species that have established themselves in well-defined stable communities. In India it has been observed that:


If these areas are protected and side branches are pruned leaving one or two leaders, the bushy saplings assume an erect tree form and the natural progression begins. If side branches are not pruned or cut, natural pruning of side branches occurs, but this is a slow process. From the fifth year after initial establishment, the tree gives way to other indigenous species such as neem, sissoo, babool and khair. Thus protection and pruning leads to a erect tree form in P. juliflora with 3 to 5 m clear bole in 30 to 45 years, as can be seen in ravines in the protected private forests in the Chambal area. (Chinnimani 1998)


There are no other species of the same form and height as kiawe that substitute for it in the forest.” (Egler 1947) All field evidence indicates the present distribution of kiawe forests is in essential equilibrium with the environment. Because the light tolerances of the tree are similar to those of slope shrubs and because the size is greater, there is a tendency for kiawe to spread over the slope vegetation rather than the reverse ” (Egler 1947). Prosopis’s propensity for desert-grassland arroyos is probably due more to the ability to colonize disturbed habitat than the need for the additional water” (Cornejo et al.) In those arroyos and floodplains Prosopis controls erosion. (Cornejo et al.) William Paris (2006) observed that kiawe is “not a good rainmaker tree because the leaf is not dense”. Kiawe is not a rainmaker tree but can pave the way for rainmaker trees. “Kiawe is not a good soil builder because the root system has lateral roots that go out and take a lot from the soil. It sure can grow in the dry country” (Paris 2006). “The tree will grow ‘with its toes in the sea,’ its foliage is somewhat sensitive to the salt air when blown in by the strong trades” (Fosberg 1966). Kiawe is extremely salt tolerant. Jim Dawsett 2006 says that his father worked in a salt mine in a kiawe forest on “Sand Island” Honolulu producing both charcoal and salt.


“This species is a pioneer coloniser in ravines and forms better conditions for other species to colonise in the course of time. P. juliflora is completely eliminated by secondary successors with further time course changes leading to dry deciduous forest in 100 to 200 years as species of a higher order replace it in the successional gradient. (Chinnimani 1998)



Invasive Species? (This entire section is quotes – needs to be word smithed)


“Invasive species are species that are non-native to a particular ecosystem and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm. Invasive species are characterized by rapid growth rates, extensive dispersal capabilities, large and rapid reproductive output and broad environmental tolerance. Forest invasive species can negatively affect forest ecosystems or damage specific forest products. Prosopis species, like any invasive species, are invasive only under conditions that are favorable to their spread” (Geesing et al. 1983). “Prosopis species usually require the presence of animals or flooding and drying cycles to germinate. One important reason for their invasive behavior is certainly their outstanding viability under extreme conditions. Perhaps more important is the widespread propagation of Prosopis trees and shrubs (often from poor genetic material) by humans without measures for preventing further spread. Prosopis spp. are often considered invasive from an economic viewpoint because they are in conflict with other human land use” (Geesing et al. 1983). “The impact on soil biodiversity and fertility may also be assumed to be generally positive, particularly in comparison with bare land, since vegetation cover reduces erosion by wind and water, stabilizes dunes and increases soil fertility through nitrogen fixation and litter fall. On the other hand, Prosopis invasion could theoretically impair the water supply” (Geesing et al. 1983). “However, trials clearly demonstrated that eradication is only cost effective in exceptional cases (for example, in irrigation channels) and that all methods will fail without follow-up treatments. It was also shown that preventive measures such as a routine control and eradication of established Prosopis seedlings on agricultural land two to three times a year, rather than large-scale eradication of established and dense Prosopis stands, are fundamental to containing further spread” (Geesing et al. 1983).

“In other situations Prosopis species are unquestionably desirable: native P. pallida in Peru provides pods useful for human food and livestock feed; Research on the prevention (rather than remediation) of spread, and on the impact of Prosopis invasion on plant and animal diversity in different ecosystems, is still inadequate” (Geesing et al. 1983). “Finally, Prosopis trees and shrubs have become naturalized constituents of many natural and cultivated ecosystems; their total eradication is not only ecologically risky but in many areas technically and economically impossible (Geesing et al. 1983). “Thus, future efforts must be concentrated on integrated management, i.e. far-sighted and sustainable control of the species, including prevention of spread, selective eradication and full exploitation of the resource, while its potential to fight desertification and to provide fuel wood, good-quality fodder and sometimes even human food is respected” (Geesing et al. 1983).


Native Plants and Kiawe Country


“The Hawaiian Islands were settled by ocean-voyaging Polynesians, probably from the Marquesas.” (Cuddihy and Stone 1990) First settled along the western coast and gradually moved up slope. (Cuddihy and Stone 1990)  “Deforestation and erosion were the natural results of Hawaiian Agriculture.” (Cuddihy and Stone, 1990) Wild Cattle (Bos taurus), introduced in 1793-4, may have played a role in further degradation of the land (Cuddihy and Stone 1990). “Environmental changes associated with deforestation (apart from the simple loss of species) include increase in solar radiation; decrease in soil moisture, permeability, and surface water retention; faster run-off; lower water table and altered microclimates; and drought (Newman 1969 and Cuddihy and Stone 1990). Forests were and are the natural vegetation of most of the main Hawaiian Islands” (Cuddihy and Stone 1990). Naupaka-kahakai (Scavola sericea), ‘ilima (Sida fallax), naio (Myporum sandwicense), hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum), and nehe (Lipochaeta spp.) are often the dominant non-native cover of the coastal zone (Cuddihy and Stone 1990) Mo’omomi Beach on Molokai’i is a good native plant coastal example containing: Ohai (Sesbania tomentosa), akoko (Chamaesyce celastroides), maiapilo (Capparis sandwichiana), akia (Wikstroemia spp.) the sedge Fimbristylis cymosa, Achyranthes rotundata, Ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha), hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), lama (Diospyros sandwicensis), loulu palms (Prichardia spp.) (Cuddihy and Stone, 1990).

On Oahu, Egler (1947) observed that ‘Willi Willi’ used to grow up through Kiawe and over take it becoming the dominant tree species. This is very hard to see now because most places where kiawe is, were planted by intensely managed cattle on overgrazed lands. The cattle used to eat everything in the paddock and then stomp around in the mud passing kiawe seeds in their feces, which would then get squished into the ground awaiting rain to germinate. The trees grew up thick creating a lot of straight posts. The posts were harvested, thereby thinning the forest and selecting for large mother trees to provide shade and protection from the harsh winds for the cattle. The forests that develop this way rarely have any competition because it has been trampled or otherwise munched down by cattle.

For most people who care about the land, kiawe is a concern because it is known to not be from here and believed to out compete native vegetation. These concerns are legitimate. However, we need to remember that most of the damage to the original inhabitants of kiawe’s new Hawaiian home was done prior to the arrival of kiawe. Kiawe has now moved into an ecosystem with few competing natives.  In the southwest of North America Prosopis has demonstrated to be “a protective harbor, an island of shade, nutrients, and moisture” (Nabhan 1987). Mesquite trees are known to be magnets of biodiversity in the Sonoran Desert.  (Nabhan 1987) Typically, 1500 kilograms of water are used to produce a kilogram of mesquite, so that considerable soil moisture is gobbled up by the tree shading the herbs. And yet, despite this competition, herbs are often huge, with large seed sets under mesquite. (Nabhan 1987)

In places were kiawe has less impact the natives are able to find some sort of equilibrium with it. Recently, one Sndalwood tree approximately 30 years old was found at the Kaloko Honokohau national park. The tree, though being quite spindly with long brittle stems from reaching through the kiawe canopy, is very healthy. If the sandalwood tree were allowed to finish setting fruit before having the kiawe branches around it delicately removed, it would flourish. The greater amounts of sun let through and the new flush of nutrients and moisture retention from the chipped kiawe branches would positively benefit the sandalwood. This example points the way towards the possibility of utilizing existing stands of kiawe as a nurse tree, creating well-managed microclimates for the nurturing of native plants. Protection from the wind, additional moisture and nitrogen, and woody debris from the kiawe may significantly contribute to the re-establishment of Native Hawaiian plants. “Kiawe wood chips make a great amendment for native plant restoration” (Wagner 2005). Allelopathic effects are known from Prosopis but this is due mostly to fallen fruits rather than leaves.




In the last hundred years Prosopis pallida, a native of Peru, has been introduced into the Hawaiian Islands as a source of food for livestock (Fosberg 1966). “Kiawe occupies large areas of arid land in the coast regions, much of which would be absolutely worthless but for this tree. Its pods are valuable stock food, much relished by cattle running in these regions. In certain seasons of the year, it is their chief food” (Sweezy 1926). As a vital forage crop for cattle, kiawe was protected whenever possible from predating pest. The beans, leaves, flowers and wood are all predated at times by various organisms. “The most numerous are insects of family Bruchidae, but Tribolium castaneum (fam. Tenebrionidae), Laspeyresia leguminis and Cryptophebia sp. (fam. Olethreutidae) and Plodia interpunctella (fam. Pyralidae) are also known to eat the seeds” (Skoleman 2005). “The caterpillars of two introduced and very common moths affect the bloom and occasionally reduce the size of the bean crop, and the grubs of four beetles bore into the sapwood of dead or felled trees.” (Fosberg, 1966) “The sapwood is a clear yellow and is apt to be riddled by borers if not used soon after cutting” (Fosberg 1966). The following insects are known to predate P. pallida in some way: Caryedon serratus, Algarobius bottimeri, Mimosestes amicus, M. insularis, M. nubigens. Several species of bruchids that affect kiawe have also been introduced to the state inadvertently. These include Mimosestes nubigens (M. sallaei), a species normally found in seeds of six species of Acacia in North America (Kingsolver and Johnson 1978), Caryedon serratus, and Algarobius bottimeri that feeds only on P. glandulosa in Texas (Kingsolver et al. 1977). In the Hawaiian Islands where these bruchids have been introduced, all use the pods of P. pallida. The fruits of Prosopis are vulnerable to consumption by bruchids and up to four species may coexist in the same location. This coexistence may be due in part to their attacking a host at different times during the season or by laying eggs on fruits at different heights in the tree, or by differential ability to use other hosts (Johnson 1983).

            In Hawaii, Kiawe is currently not very susceptible to predation because of the introduction of biological controls. Generally, Prosopis pods are attacked by insects, which eat the pulp and the seeds. “These algarroba pods grow in quantity and are much used as stock food. With these four bruchids infesting them, their value was greatly diminished, especially if stored for any length of time” (Sweezy 1926). Rain also damages the fruits. When the fruits lying on the ground get wet, they become rotten. In the Americas, Bruchid beetles attack Prosopis pods. Several species of bruchids have become established in Hawaii of recent years. Among them the following four feed in the algarroba pods: Bruchus prosopis has been known for over 20 years; Pachymerus gonagra first known in 1908; Brushus sallaei in 1918; Bruchus amicus in 1923. There is one black beetle, Mimosestes amicus, in Hawaii known to drill holes into kiawe fruits that have fallen on the ground (Johnson 1983).  Mimosestes amicus - In a given crop under unique conditions, this species may feed in a significant number of Prosopis seeds. According to Swier (1974) and Conway (1980), however, this species causes far less damage than A. prosopis. This species is similar in its life cycle to A. prosopis except that M. amicus lays eggs in late spring (June) only on immature pods with well developed cotyledons and on mature pods, it cements eggs randomly to the pod, often superimposing eggs on top of each other, and the larvae enter the pod directly through the bottom of the egg. Swier (1974) found that this species will destroy up to 3% of the seeds of Prosopis velutina in Arizona. This species also feeds on seeds other than Prosopis.

The insects are looking for the high protein seeds a food source for them and their progeny (Skoleman 2005). Several parasites of Bruchids were studied by birdwell at Brownsville Texas. Of these, Lariophagus texanus, Urosigalphus bruchi, Glyptocolastes bruchivorus, and Horismenus sp. were brought to Honolulu by Willard in 1921 and have become established, and are a valuable addition to the previously introduced parasites in checking the ravages of four species of bruchids that infest the pods of the kiawe tree (Sweezy 1926). “Dr. W. D. Hunter made several shipments of mesquite beans containing parasitized weevils from Texas. The parasites were bred from this material in large numbers by Mr. D.T. Fullaway of this station, and were subsequently liberated on Maui and in several localities near Honolulu”. “On account of the prevalence of weevils, which attack and destroy the seeds on the tree, or after the pods have fallen off, or have been stored in bins, it was thought desirable to attempt the introduction of parasites to control these weevils” (Wilcox 1910). Egg and larval parasites have an impact on bruchids by reducing their numbers. The following parasites have been introduced from Texas: Egg-parasite, Uscana semifumipennis 1910. Larval parasites: Heterospilus prosopidisLariophagus texanusUrosigalphus bruchiGlyptocolastes bruchivorusHorismenus sp. By the combined work of all these parasites, the above mentioned bruchids are now controlled to the extent that the algarroba pods are mostly free from serious injury and their value as stock food scarcely deteriorated. Probably the egg parasite is the most effective of these parasites. (Sweezy 1928)

Whole Plants, plant extracts, oils, minerals, ash, smoke, fire, sawdust and controlled atmosphere have been used as methods for the control of Prosopis pests during storage (Johnson 1983). Hermetically sealed rooms have been used in India and Peru with excellent success. One method to preserve seeds or pods in large glass jars is to add a cotton swab that has been saturated with ethyl alcohol into the jar before sealing the lid. This method suffocates predator organisms sealed in the jar. For a complete listing of chemical and biological controls for Prosopis please consult: The Handbook on Seed Insects of Prosopis Species (Johnson 1983). It is very important to understand that all of the bruchids that feed in seeds of Prosopis lay eggs on seed pods before or when the pods mature, thus pods that have bruchids emerge from them in storage were infested by bruchids before they were put into storage. Therefore, it is very important to reduce the numbers of bruchids in seeds as soon as possible after they are harvested and prior to or shortly after they are stored. Of course, some (probably most) Prosopis bruchids will continue their life cycle until all food materials are used up. Thus it is essential that storage areas are clean and free of places where food accumulates and bruchids may hide because uninfested pods may be attacked when placed in storage areas that have living bruchids in them (Johnson 1983). Wood ashes and minerals are widely used for mixing with grains. Their effectiveness varies with the silica content of the dust and their absorptive and abrasive properties. They may also fill the interstitial spaces in bulk grain or provide a barrier to the movement of insects (Johnson 1983). Miscellaneous methods of control such as spreading a 2 cm layer of sawdust on stored legume seeds, use of fire to trap and kill insects or to heat seeds to destroy the insects in them, and use of smoke to repel or kill insects have been used (Johnson 1983). The use of controlled atmosphere storage (Kamel 1980 and Burrell 1980) is of interest because it is a technique where large amounts of seeds can be stored in underground pits, which are deprived of air. The insects inside the seeds soon use up the available oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and the insects suffocate. Variations of storage of seeds in hermetically sealed containers may include artificial introduction of carbon dioxide into the container before sealing it and the use of fungal respiration or fermentation to use up the oxygen (Johnson 1983).

          Other organisms occasional plague kiawe, for example, the “Monkey pod – Kiawe caterpillar” (Melipotis indomita). Folliar damage by this noctuid fluctuated from light to heavy at various times during the year on monkey pod and kiawe trees on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii. “The ichneumonid, Chrmocryptus albomarginatus released in May and June 1973 to aid in the control of M. indomita, has not been recovered to date”. A tachinid, Eucelatoria sp. obtained from Mexico, was initially released at Hickam Air Force Base in April 1974. Up to the end of December, this species also had not been recovered (Nakao and Funasaki 1976). The moth, Achaea janata, considers kiawe a host plant (Zimerman 1958a). Another moth, Anacamptodes fragilaria, also favores kiawe as a host plant (Zimerman 1958a). “The attacks of the larvae upon the important cattle forage crop (kiawe, algarroba, mesquite) caused considerable concern to ranchers soon after this moth was discovered here, because many trees were badly defoliated. The Eumenes wasps, which were accidentally introduced about the time of the appearance of the moth, however, have done a good job of keeping the caterpillars under control, and even when it is difficult for one to find caterpillars feeding on the Prosopis, they may be found by breaking open the mud nests of the Eumenes (Zimerman 1958). A beetle, Diploptera dytiscoides, with a known affinity for kiawe can bee controlled via baits such as phosphorus paste on bread placed in protected containers (Zimerman 1958a) The insect most people are aware of in a kiawe grove is the termite, Kalotermes immigrans (Zimerman 1958a). Logs of kiawe, which at first glance appear to be thick unbreakable chunks of rock, crumble by way of the termite. If one scrutinizes the leaves the “Hawaiian Thrips” Taeniothrips hawaiiensis and Thrips tabaci AKA “The onion thrips”, a known vector of yellow spot virus, may be found (Zimmerman 1948). Lastly, the Phycitid moth, a common moth whose caterpillars prefer to attack plants where there has been an infestation of aphids, scales, or mealybugs, are often numerous in flower clusters of algarroba, both fresh clusters, and the withered and dried up ones (Zimerman 1958b).

Bees pollinate all Prosopis spp. wherever it is found and tends to be one of the most consistent bee forages available. Bees have been observed to increase successful fertilization of flowers leading to increased pod production. For this reason bees have been brought into kiawe forests like Puakō on the Big Island and Molokai’i. The wasps, praying mantis and the bees are all protectors of the kiawe and should therefore be protected themselves. By providing large vessels of fresh water out away from areas of human activity, these insects are given the vital waters they need to continue their service without confrontations. Habitat for these important beneficial insects need be conserved in appropriate designated areas. Recently, bee forages on P. juliflora fruit in Brazil have been detected at the final ripening stage, consuming the entire fruit pulp prior to its falling to the ground. The forage did not occur on all individuals in the population, suggesting that those foraged had very high sugar concentration in the pods. No form of control has been tested against this insect (Ref?).

“The potential hazards of introducing new honey plants suggesting that besides potential invasiveness, such species may attract native pollinators away from the native flora. Profuse production of pollen from P. juliflora has other potential drawbacks, being blamed for allergic reactions in the Middle East, India, the USA and elsewhere” (Ref?).


Ithome concebrella – “cosmoptery gid moth”

Micro leprodoptera moth


Faunal Associates

Mesquite has seemingly co-evolved sweet pods for megafaunal dispersal.” (Cornejo et al.) The introduction of cattle and horses to the Americas has resulted in an increase of the spread of mesquite seeds. In Hawaii, “its distribution has been largely accomplished by stock” (Wilcox 1910) In Hawaii Franklins, Mina birds, Mongoose, Donkeys, Horses, Cows, fish and humans all make use of Kiawe in some way. The wild pig (Sus scrofa), Goats (Capra hircus) and Sheep (Ovis aries) are known local foragers of the kiawe bean pod. Donkeys spread it all over. However, in Puakō there were no native species found growing in or visiting the forest during a recent environmental assessment (Spiegel 2004). Cattle ranchers have known for centuries that kiawe and its relatives are excellent cattle forage. The fruits are the preferred feed for fattening cattle before market. Local pig husbandry employs kiawe fruits for finishing pigs. William Paris noted that in Kona about 3 miles of lowland Kiawe forest was sufficient for 1,200 animals. He voiced concern about development of the lowlands between Kailua and keholo stating that “someday there may be no kiawe left” (Paris 2006).

It appears as though Kiawe has been spread mostly via cattle and their associates. Ungulates, having a multiple stomach system, are more susceptible to problems when feeding solely on Prosopis pods. The large amount of sugars can have detrimental effects upon gastric flora, which manifests as low digestive function resulting in impaction of material in the lower intestines. The addition of grasses mitigates this problem. Sheep will also experience this but to a lesser degree. The horses used for corralling contribute as much or more to the spread of the trees as the cows. Horses, burrows, and the like will completely reforest an area if left confined with a few mature Prosopis producing pods. Mono-gastric animals find Prosopis pods to be most palatable and nutritious. The Hawaiians have been feeding Kiawe beans to pigs since its arrival. The Kiawe is considered to be the preferred pig finishing food in Hawaii. High protein concentrates of the pods make a perfect fish food for aquaculture. Game birds already thrive in Puakō and other dense Kiawe forests in Hawaii. The insects living on the pods and wood also make excellent high protein fish and poultry feed. In general it appears that Cows, horses and relatives spread the trees the most. Followed by sheep and goats. Pigs digest the pods most thoroughly and destroy the inner seeds efficiently; greatly reducing the viability of any seed that may find it’s way through the pig. Leave the cattle on the beans only a few months – fatten them and then move back to pasture. Horses loose there tails with Koa haole. (Dawsett 2006)



            Several fungi of interest are found in association with Kiawe in Hawaii. Kiawe wood is perfectly suited to support fruitings of a variety of fungi but most of these do not occur naturally in Kiawe’s preferred habitat. However, two mushrooms do occur commonly associated with Kiawe in Puakō, HI: Gleophyllum striatum and Podaxis pistillaris.




          Gleophyllum striatum is a polypore mushroom found growing on kiawe in Hawaii. This small gray - brown shelf fungus grows on dead kiawe helping to break down the lignins in the wood. It is extremely salt tolerant and is often found growing on dead stumps thriving on salt spray in lava fields along the shore. It is also very drought tolerant laying in wait for the infrequent rains that occur in Prosopis habitat. While technically the fruiting bodies (carpophores) of G. striatum are edible they are usually far too tough to chew. One might consider making a tea with the mushrooms as a way of extracting nutrients and water-soluble beta-glucan polysacharrides. While the fruiting bodies maybe too tough to eat they are merely the sex organs of the organism. The true body or roots of the organism is the mycelium. This fibrous, white, cottony mass is quite soft and technically contains all of the same properties as the carpophores. It may be possible to use the mycelium to inoculate the seeds of Prosopis in order to create a kind of medicinal mushroom tempeh. The lignin degrading mycelium could break the tough seed coat of kiawe and make the protein inside available. The mycelium would hold the seeds together as a congealed mass that can be sliced and cooked. The consumer would gain the benefit of both the high protein seeds and the medicinal and nutritional virtues of the fungus. This is still quite experimental and it is not known whether the gum inside the seeds would pose any problems. These experiments have only begun (Logan, unpublished) P. africana seeds are fermented into a food condiment in Nigeria (‘okpiye’) and other native range countries” (Achi 1992 in Pasiecznik et. al. 2001)


G. striatum has been examined for its ability to break down lignin and other ringed molecules. One study found that G. striatum was capable of degrading Enrofloxacin, (a common veterinarian antibiotic with known environmental persistence) when applied at 10 ppm, into non-toxic metabolites in about 1 week. If G. striatum can truly degrade persistent environmental toxins, this would make it a most powerful ally in the protection and restoration of delicate ecosystems like Puakō. This demonstrates that this mushroom could be used both to degrade the seed coat and gum of the seed thereby making the protein available. The wood of Kiawe can be inoculated with sawdust spawn or wooden dowels and the myceliated logs planted in effluent clean up systems or the entire tree can be grown as a gray-water or black-water system filter tree pre-inoculated with the mushroom. This mushroom is extremely salt tolerant and is the only mushroom found growing directly on the Kiawe here in Hawaii.



Podaxis pistillaris also known as the Desert Shaggy Mane is a known associate of kiawe in Hawaii. Like all mushrooms, Podaxis is ephemeral coming up after rains and sticking around long enough to dry out, crack a part and release its glebal mass of spores into the air much like a common puffball. Savvy mycophiles know how to cruise the open sandy areas of Kiawe forests or gravel roads in search of young white buttons to collect. When collected young for eating, the mushrooms should be sliced open to check and see that they have not changed color. If they are pure white all the way through they are prime for stir fries, sauces, or immediately dehydrated for later use. The fruiting bodies are known to be rich in proteins containing all Essential amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals.  In the course of an ethnobotanical study on fungi used in Yemeni ethnomedicine the fungus Podaxis pistillaris  (Podaxales, Podaxaceae, Basidiomycetes) was found to exhibit antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus flavus, Bacillus subtilis, Proteus mirabilis, Serratia marcescens and Escherichia coli (Al-Fatimi et al. 2006). These mushrooms can be cultivated quite easily in sandy soil beds and do not need Kiawe as a host tree. They will fruit in full sun. The dried mushrooms need only be broken and the spore load stirred into water that is then broadcasted over a prepared bed of sandy soil like that which is found in Puakō. Regular waterings produce large flushes of mushrooms in just a few weeks (Jiskani 2005).


Kiawe is a dense, hard wood perfectly suitable for the cultivation of gourmet medicinal fungi like Lentinus, Grifola, Ganoderma, Trametes and more (Stamets 2005). One possibility is to use Kiawe logs 3-4” diameter + 3-4’ long - drill and plug with spawn and cover with wax. Pieces of this size would otherwise be chipped, used for firewood, or in the cultivation of aquaculture food. One log weighing approximately 5 lbs can produce at least one pound fresh weight of Shiitake worth ~$10. This might only be a viable option where there is fresh water readily available on site and where there is a greenhouse or other controlled environment to keep the humidity and competitor organisms in check. However, some hotels would make out quite nicely by erecting small-scale greenhouse for the cultivation of gourmet mushrooms on kiawe prunings originating on site. Crooked branches, normally unsuitable for anything other than firewood become far more valuable as a platform for fruiting mushrooms. Transport costs are minimized while value is added to an otherwise waste product. The use of native Hawaiian fungi with medicinal and or edible qualities needs to be further explored. A recent conference in Hilo, Hawaii held jointly by the Japanese and American mycological societies identified several mushrooms endemic to Hawaii with unique characteristics. Using native fungi to degrade non-native species into useful products is a solution that makes sense. Myco-remediation products (pieces 3-4” diameter + 3-4’ long - drill and plug). Strategies similar to gourmet fungi cultivation can be used with G. striatum to produce logs that are sunk erect into the ground to soak up effluents contaminated with xenobiotics for the purpose of decomposing the contaminants and the wood.


One research group may have found an important relationship between yield and mycorhizal fungi from Prosopis. By altering the mycorhizae of the tree it may be possible to boost yields (Tarafdar 1998). **Need to know the current mycorhizal species on Kiawe and in Puakō on kiawe…Plus any additional mycological info related to kiawe.


Mycorrhizal fungi occur widely in various environmental conditions, and are found in association with a number of leguminous trees. Mycorrhizal fungi are a group of important soil micro-organisms, ubiquitous throughout the world. They are known to improve plant growth by increasing nutrient uptake, increasing the absorbing surface area, mobilising sparingly available nutrient sources, or by excretion of chelating compounds or ectoenzymes. Mycorrhizal infection may also protect roots from soil pathogens (Perrin, 1990), thereby increasing root growth and nutrient acquisition by the host root. They also improve the activity of nitrogen fixing organisms in the root zone (Mosse et al., 1976). (Tarafdar 1998)

Most studies on vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) - Rhizobium interactions suggest that colonisation with efficient endophytes significantly improves phosphorus nutrition and consequently nodulation and nitrogen fixation (Hayman 1986). While the principal effect of mycorrhiza on nodulation is undoubtedly phosphate mediated, mycorrhiza may have other secondary effects. Potentially limiting factors may include the supply of photosynthates, trace elements or plant hormones. (Tarafdar 1998)

P. juliflora were mostly infected by VAM fungi belonging to the genus Glomus spp. Glomus mosseae and G. fasciculatum on P. juliflora under nursery conditions was investigated. A 1.5-fold increase in plant height and up to a 3-fold increase in dry matter yield were noticed 5 months after inoculation, compared with the uninoculated control. In general, the effect of VAM fungi was greater than that of ectomycorrhizal fungi under nursery conditions at similar plant ages. G. fasciculatum is the most suitable VAM fungus for enhancing growth and productivity of P. juliflora under arid conditions. It is found that simultaneous inoculation of legumes with Rhizobium and VAM causes synergistic beneficial effects (Bagyaraj et al. 1979)”. (Tarafdar 1998)


**What about the lichen?

**Need quote about fungal nutrient broth…


Beer manufacturing is possible with kiawe. One fermentologist has experimented with harvesting the beans and fermenting them for the purposes of ethyl alcohol production for biofuel and pharmaceutical preparations and then inoculates the mash byproduct with oyster mushrooms. After the fungal fruits have been harvested, the spent substrate is fed to animals like pigs, chickens, cows and fish or used to grow insects for fish food. The effluent is captured and the nutrients recycled back to the trees. In this way, the beans are used to derive multiple products. This makes the system far more efficient and contributes to the overall economic viability. For most species, mushroom cultivation would require fresh water.  A greenhouse/humidity chamber erected in the forest could utilize evaporation of the ground water for increasing the humidity in the house for fruiting. The water (found 4 feet below the surface in spots) evaporates from the heat and then condenses inside of the greenhouse. The greenhouse must be placed in full shade so it does not get too hot. Supplemental water may be provided by a well. G. striatum however, fruits naturally under high salt, hot, dry conditions and would require no supplemental water. Traditional beer will be addressed more thoroughly below in the section on pod products.



Chemistry and Nutrition


            Alkaloids are found mostly in the leaf, fruits and roots of Prosopis. A listing of alkaloids specific to P. pallida in Hawaii is unknown to this author. However, a list of alkaloids found in P. juliflora are presented in Table X. (Duke 2005) P. juliflora has been found to contain Seratonin. This could be useful in that it is easy to test for Seratonin and other tryptamines to determine their presence in the Hawaiian tree as a potential phytochemical indicator (chemo taxonomic marker) of a species or hybrid. Two piperidine alkaloids have been studied from the Prosopis pallidaP. juliflora complex (Neuwinger 1996). Prosopine acts as a mild excitant of the nervous system and prosopinine displays a mild sedative activity with local anesthetic effects three orders of magnitude greater than cocaine. Leaf tincture displays some minor antibacterial activity. A flavone glycoside, patutrim, has been isolated from the flowers (ICFRE 1993). Other studies have demonstrated the power of Prosopis plant extracts against lung cancer, leukemia and other carcinomas (Pasiecznik et. al. 2001). It is interesting how on the one hand Prosopis often displays fierce spines for protection in harsh climates yet on the other hand seemingly provides the antidote to the pain it inflicts upon the victim in the form of an analgesic in the leaves. It may be possible to macerate the leaves slightly and apply to the wound of a fresh spine puncture in order to protect against infection and lessen the pain. What a generous and gentle tree.


Table X (Adapted from Duke 2005)

PROSOPIS JULIFLORA (SW.) DC. (Leguminosae) "Algaroba"


















Fruit - 48,000 ppm

Leaf - 85,000 ppm

Seed - 35,000 - 300,000 ppm


Leaf 20,800 ppm




Fruit 783,000 ppm

Leaf 696,000 ppm

Seed 218,000 ppm






Fruit 30,000 ppm

Leaf 29,000 ppm

Seed 53,000 - 78,000 ppm


Fruit 277,000 ppm

Leaf 216,000 ppm

Seed 28,000 ppm


Fruit 302,500 ppm
















Leaf 2,200 ppm




Fruit 139,000 ppm

Leaf 190,000 ppm

Seed 300,000 - 652,000 ppm






Fruit 163,600 ppm




Fruit 330,000 ppm

Seed 330,000 ppm



Bark 6,000 - 84,000 ppm

Root 67,000 ppm

Wood 9,000 ppm


Fruit 58,100 ppm







ppm = parts per million



Grados and Bravo 1998 did not detect the presence of starch during a thorough examination of P. pallida pods from Peru. The stem bark and root bark of all Prosopis contains tannins. There have been 227 distinct bioactivities found for P. juliflora. The plant was laboratory tested by James Duke and the results were subsequently published on his phytochemical and ethnobotanical database. Some of the highlights of this list include: Analgesic, AntiHIV, AntiPMS, Antialzheimeran, Antianxiety, Antibacterial, Anticancer, Anticarcinomic (Breast), Antidepressant, Antidiabetic, Antiestrogenic, Antileukemic, Antimalarial, Antimutagenic, Antiobesity, Antioxidant, Antitumor, Antiviral, and a Candidicide, just to name a few (Duke 2005). No anti-nutritional factors have been identified in P. pallida pods regarding human consumption (Becker and Grosjean 1980, Grados and Cruz 1996). The average P. pallida pod weighs 12 grams of which more than 90% constitutes the pulp (pericarp). There are about 25 seeds per pod. Analysis of this species demonstrated that the pericarp was comprised of sucrose (46.3% dry matter) and dietary fiber (32.2% d.m.) as well as protein (8.1%) and ash (3.6%), with small amounts of polyphenolic compounds (1.2%). The endosperm contains galactomannan gum similar in composition to guar gum with a galactose:mannose ratio (1:1.36) (Grados and Cruz 1990; Bravo et al. 1994; Grados et al. 1993). “Guar beans have a large endosperm that contains galactomannan gum, a substance which forms a gel in water. This is commonly known as guar gum and is used in dairy products like ice cream and as a stabilizer in cheese and cold-meat processing. Another use is as a fibre supplement. After being partially hydrolyzed it is completely soluble in water and soft food. Being approximately 75% dietary fiber, it allows the undetectable addition of fibre to either a foodstuff or diet” (Wikipedia 2006). In Peru, some products from P. pallida pods such as syrups (algarrobina), instant coffee substitute, etc. are made at home on a small scale and also commercialized. See table xx for the nutritional profile of P. pallida.


Table XX.


*Chemical Composition of
Prosopis pallida
Fruit Pulp
Components g/100 g
of Dry Matter



Total dietary fiber








Reducing sugars






Total soluble polyphenols



Minerals:      mg/100 g of Dry Matter












Vitamins:     mg/kg of original matter


not detected









Nicotinic acid




Folic acid


Calcium pantothenate


Amino Acid Composition of
Prosopis pallida Cotyledon

Amino Acid g/100 g
of original matter

Vitamin Contents in
 Prosopis pallida

Vitamin mg/kg
of original matter


Aspartic acid












Glutamic acid










Nicotinic acid








Folic acid




Calcium pantothenate









































Total fat content of P. pallida cotyledons = 7%

Linoleic acid


Oleic acid


Palmitic acid


Stearic acid


                                                          *Table from Grados and Cruz 1998.


Generally, legumes contain trace amounts of the sulphur amino acids: methionine and cystine. The essential amino acid spectrum of the seed complements that of cereals. The fruit pulp has demonstrated to contain a balanced amino acid spectrum. The seeds are a bit low in sulphur amino acids (methionine and cystine) and this is overcome by simply mixing it with other foodstuffs that complete the protein spectrum (Lima et. al. Undated). In North America, the combination of wheat and mesquite was figured out immediately upon introduction. The Pima understood that the two plants were synergistic both nutritionally and in agriculture. Wheat and Mesquite complemented each other’s amino acid spectrum when combined in food. Agriculturally, the Mesquite would feed the wheat with nitrogen and water, while providing shade and microclimate. The harvesting time was offset so the mesquite was dropping pods at a different time than when the wheat grains were ripe. A Brazilian study found that the broken pods of P. juliflora could be boiled for 2 hours and the resulting liquid fraction is concentrated into a syrup similar to molasses but with a bitter flavor. The remaining pulp is dried and ground into flour that was found to contain 11% protein and is suitable for animal food or human food supplements (Lima et. al. Undated). The implications of this research points to the dual use ‘co-product’ potential of Prosopis as both food and fuel which will be discussed in more detail in the bio-energy section.


It has been observed that kiawe pods are low in vitamin B. This vitamin deficiency is believed to be responsible for what is known locally as “tongue out disease”. It was observed that when the cows are left in the lowlands for the summer feeding only on kiawe beans that display this peculiar behavior. This was believed to be due to low vitamin B content of the pods coupled with the high protein content of the pods and that it could be cured by supplementing with a B-vitamin complex (Luce 2006). This author believes that this theory needs to be re-examined. Cows need green roughage to keep motile. Kiawe is known to create impaction in animals fed solely raw, whole kiawe beans. It is possible that the cows were so desperate for green roughage that they attempted to eat the kiawe leaves which would result in a very numb mouth from the alkaloids present in the leaves. Could this be the origin of “tounge out disease”?


The presence of Furfural has been investigated in P. juliflora honey and pods. Furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural results from the heating of sugars in an acidic medium. Pentose degrades to furfural, hexose produces HMF. Both substances are very toxic. Raw honey is furfural free because it is not heated. Furfural has been found in aged honey that has fermented. Fiehe's reaction has been used to detect the presence of furfural compounds in P. juliflora syrup. A bright cherry-red color indicated a positive result. The same test was applied to syrup made from muscovado sugar, commonly consumed in the Northeast of Brazil. The result was stronger in coloration for the muscavado sugar than P. juliflora syrup. Furfural is one of the compounds responsible for coffee’s aroma. One modern Prosopis syrup making process, uses a cold-water infusion process to extract the sugars and then concentrate the liquid under pressure without using heat. The resulting syrup is furfural free with a golden color and the consistency of honey (Bravo et al. ?). Furfural is the reason that Kiawe coffee substitutes are so well received – people just love the flavor and aroma of furfural!


Get refs about furfural from Richard – found in aged honey…

*Need better chemistry info for Prosopis Hawaii…


Medicinal Potential

            A flame flickers inside of a gourd candleholder depicting the sacred red mountain of the Akimel O'odham tribe (AKA the River Pima tribe). The candleholder was a gift given to the author by Jacob (last name?) after a walk through the Mesquite Bosque (a closed canopy floodplain forest) at the base of his people’s sacred mountain outside of Phoenix, Arizona. At one time the Salt River used to run permanently through their tribal lands but now the river is dead only flowing in flash floods during the monsoon season. Jacob gently moves a spiky branch in front of him as he says, “Forests like these used to be in all of the low wet valleys in the Sonoran desert and were full of life including Jaguars at one time but now only a few forests remain.” We walked through the understory of a beautiful forest full of lush green grasses beneath our feet. Occasionally we would break out of the forest into a huge clearing full of Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) loaded with edible fruits and find old camping sites where Jacob’s ancestors would stay while hunting deer. Life has changed drastically for the River Pima tribe. There is much less hunting for deer and wildcrafting of edible cactus fruits than in the pre-contact days. Surrounded by all of the conveniences of modern city life, they have adapted to new ways of living. Unfortunately, modernity has had a negative impact on their health for they are known to have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. Ironically, The beans of the Mesquite tree (Prosopis spp.) and the pads of Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) which comprise major portions of the O'odham traditional diet are known to lower insulin response:


“…in part, because the starches [in these foods]…are digested more slowly than the starches in Western foods and…the increased fiber content of traditional foods slows their absorption in the small intestine, so the rise in blood sugar is more gradual. Mucilage present in Mesquite pods and cactus pads also dramatically lowers the insulin response by slowing the digestion and absorption of starches. Even the traditional Pima ways of grinding and processing render the foods less likely to exacerbate dia­betes” (Balick and Cox 1997).


“Mucilage is a classical term for viscous polysaccharide polymers that include galactomannan” (CDA 2006).Mucilages hold water and are normal plant constituents” (Robinson 1991). As we have seen above, the Mesquite of the O'odham is a relative of the Kiawe of Hawaii and the Panini of Hawaii is also related to the Prickly Pear cactus of the O'odham. Diabetes is another important commonality between Hawaiians and the O'odham. Often people complain about Kiawe because the thorns can puncture a beach goer’s slipper or that the dead trees are a fire hazard or the beans are only good for pig food. Kiawe may actually be a gift here to help: a solution rather than a problem.


Respected naturalist Gary Nabhan (2000) says, “Mesquite pod and seed gums may help Indian diabetics to control their health problems, for when eaten in sufficient quantities, mesquite foods slow down digestion and reduce radical changes in blood sugar levels. Desert Indians today are extremely prone to diabetes, and yet many partial cures and controls can be found right at the edge of their fields.” He adds, “the Desert Pilgrims affirm that the desert itself can heal, and urge other tribal health organizations to integrate indigenous foods and medicines with their strategies to deal with the massive epidemic of nutrition-related diseases affecting ethnic minorities. Acknowledging that diabetes is playing a devastating role in reducing cultural diversity, and that traditional plant knowledge should be combined with scientific knowledge to solve this massive problem.”  The immediate medicinal potential of kiawe food products is derived from three major components of the pods: soluble sugars, insoluble sugars (dietary fiber) and gum (soluble multi-sugar-combo). These will be dealt with more deeply in subsequent sections. This section presents an overview.


Soluble Sugars

To better understand the science behind how foods like Prosopis pods benefit humans, it is useful to first look into the Carbohydrate chemistry of Prosopis and how carbohydrates work in the human body. “Carbohydrates are classified according to their degree of polymerization and are initially divided into three principal groups—sugars, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides.” (Franz et al. 2002) The Hawaii Dabetes Report 2004 defines diabetes as:


Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose (blood sugar). In a person with diabetes, the normal use of food for energy is disrupted because of defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both. Insulin is a hormone which assists with the uptake of glucose into the body’s cells. When insulin defects are present, the normal pathway of energy production is disrupted and high blood glucose levels result.


With regards to diabetes (Franz et al. 2002) found strong evidence for the following statements:


1)     Sucrose does not increase glycemia to a greater extent than isocaloric amounts of starch. 

2)     Sucrose and sucrose-containing food do not need to be restricted by people with diabetes based on a concern about aggravating hyperglycemia. However, if sucrose is included in the food/meal plan, it should be substituted for other carbohydrate sources or, if added, be adequately covered with insulin or other glucose-lowering medication.

3)     In individuals with controlled type-II diabetes, ingested protein does not increase plasma glucose concentrations, although ingested protein is just as potent a stimulant of insulin secretion as carbohydrate.

They found some evidence to support the following statement:

1)     Fructose reduces postprandial glycemia when it replaces sucrose or starch in the diabetic diet.

2)     There is no reason to recommend that diabetic individuals avoid naturally occurring fructose in fruits, vegetables, and other food.

A high intake of dietary fiber, particularly of the soluble type, above the level recommended by the ADA, improves glycemic control, decreases hyperinsulinemia, and lowers plasma lipid concentrations in patients with type-II diabetes. (Chandalia 2000) “It has been shown clearly that addition of water-soluble, gel-forming fiber in the form of guar gum and perhaps gum tragacanth to an ingested glucose solution or to a mixed meal will reduce the expected rise in glucose concentration. It is only observed when large amounts of fiber are added. The fiber also must be mixed with the administered glucose or food.” (Franz et al. 2002) A diet supplemented with large amounts of water-soluble, gel-forming fiber, such as guar gum, reduced postprandial glycemia. In support of this finding, another study comparing a diet containing 24 g fiber per day to a diet containing 50 g fiber per day found that the intake of food high in dietary fiber improved glycemic control, reduced hyperinsulinemia, and decreased plasma lipids. It thus appears that ingestion of large amounts of fiber is necessary to confer metabolic benefit. It is not clear whether the palatability and gastrointestinal side effects of fiber in this amount would be acceptable to most people (Nuttall 1993). Nizami, 2004 concluded that the use of soluble fiber-rich bread helps to control high blood sugar, excess fat, and elevated blood pressure common amongst diabetics. Therefore the simple addition of soluble fiber-rich bread to the diet of a diabetic improves the quality of life through the decreased use of drugs. None of the test subjects complained of gastrointestinal discomfort during the study. An Internet business: Essential Living Foods, lists their Peruvian whole pod Mesquite as containing 11–17% protein as well as: Lysine, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Dietary fiber. They claim that: “Mesquite is highly effective in balancing blood sugar”. (ELF.com 2006)


Endosperm Gum


Chemical analyses of Prosopis endosperm show that it is a galactomannan polysaccharide (Grados and Cruz 1990). Galactomannans are large interconnected sugar molecules that absorb water, expanding to form a highly viscous solution. The food industry uses endosperm gums as thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers and suspension agents. The pharmaceutical industry uses endosperm gums for binding tablets as well as suspending and emulsifying creams and lotions. Some gums are used in the dental and medical fields. They are also employed for non-food purposes in the printing and textile industries (FAO 1995). Gums from other leguminous seeds, such as carob, guar, and tara, are used in ice cream, sauces, cheese, yogurt, sausages, and baking products. Galactose and mannose from kiawe are found in a ratio of 1:1.36. Guar gum is 1:1.2 galactose to mannose whereas carob gum is 1:1.9 respectively. Studies at the University of Piura, Peru have focused on the rheological properties of Prosopis gum solutions, depending on the different extraction methods employed. Wet, mechanical and mechanical-chemical methods of extraction have been tested and several processes developed that will enable industrialization of P. pallida gum products for the global market (Grados and Cruz 1990). The world market for gums as food additives has been estimated at about US$ 10 billion in 1993, which does not account for non-food uses. There appears to be some marketing advantages for manufacturers labeling their products as containing natural, rather then synthetic, additives derived from legume seed gums. (FAO 1995)


“Galactomannans, polysaccharides containing both D-galactose and D-mannose serve as a food reserve in many legume endosperms and seeds of trees. Used as thickinners. They have a linear chain of B-(1->4)-mannopyranoside units with galactopyranose units linked a-(1->6) as side chains. Because of their physical properties they are sometimes classed with mucilages. Galactomannans are mostly food reserves where as mucilages are concerned with binding water. Fenugreek plays both roles. Lectins are proteins that interact specifically with carbohydrates. They tend to agglutinate red blood cells and are possibly chemotatic agents for nitrogen fixing bacteria, enzymes, pollen germination regulators, membrane transport modifiers, or act as structural components” (Robinson 1991).


Fenugreek seeds also contain galactomannan. Over the last 2 decades, studies on fenugreek seeds have demonstrated its ability to lower blood sugar levels. As a soluble fiber, galactomannan forms a gel in the stomach when eaten, which thickens the stomach contents. This action slows the absorption of glucose in the intestines resulting in a decrease in the rise in blood sugar following a meal. Galactomannan is most effective when consumed before or during a meal. Doing so allows the gum to interact with the food thereby increasing viscosity in the gut, which would be expected to slow the digestion. Fenugreek mixed with water was shown to lower postprandial blood glucose levels in type-II diabetic subjects. Fenugreek products helped significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels, improved glucose tolerance and reduced 24-hour urinary glucose excretion in both type-I and type-II diabetics. Through these studies, it has been determined that the hypoglycemic effect is largely due to the galactomannan fraction. Tests of de-gummed fenugreek seeds found no effect on blood sugar levels. Fenugreek galactomannan possess a 1:1 ratio (galactose:mannose). It is believed that the saturated ratio of fenugreek galactomannan contributes significantly to its stability. Recent studies performed with a standardized fenugreek galactomannan extract have verified that the galactomannan plays a significant role in the blood sugar lowering effects of fenugreek. Studies of fenugreek galactomannan extract taken with a glucose solution demonstrated a lowered glycemic response. Low glycemic index meals are satiating. When people consume low glycemic index meals they feel fuller for longer periods of time, than if they had consumed a high glycemic index meal. This promotes decreased food intake which may contribute positively to weight loss and over all health. (Mathern 2003) There are chewing gum patents employing Prosopis seed galactomannan for producing a diabetes friendly chewing gum (Patent Search 2005).



Exudate Gum


When kiawe trees become wounded in some way, healthy trees will exude a ‘pitch’ that bleeds out of the wound and eventually coagulates and forms a bandage just like a blood clot in humans. “Gums are produced in response to injury” (Robinson 1991). In addition to containing all sorts of antimicrobial compounds, this exudate also contains a similar gum to what is found in the seeds. The gum probably helps the liquid to solidify and form a bandage. This gum has been studied and is being used in several medicinal applications. It is harvested in India in large quantities but not in the US because it is not economically viable. P. juliflora exudes an average of 40 grams of gum per tree annually from the sapwood. Production increases under drought conditions. Over a five-year period, about 2000 metric tons of gum worth approximately $1 million were collected in India. The gum forms an adhesive mucilage, with favorable physical and chemical properties. The gum has proven to be an excellent source of Arabanose. The gum contains: D-galactose, 45%; L-arabinose, 24%; L-rhamnose, 13%; and glucuromic acid, 13.7%. It possesses modest adhesive quality and has been used for the treatment of eye infections (Varshney 1996).


Vegetable gums, i.e., those gums obtained from plants, are solids consisting of mixtures of polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which are either water-soluble or absorb water and swell up to form a gel or jelly when placed in water. They are insoluble in oils or organic solvents such as hydrocarbons, ether and alcohol. The mixtures are often complex and on hydrolysis yield simple sugars such as arabinose, galactose, mannose and glucuronic acid. Some gums are produced by exudation, usually from the stem of a tree but in a few cases from the root. The exudation is often considered to be a pathological response to injury to the plant, either accidental or caused by insect borers, or by deliberate injury ("tapping"). Seed gums are those isolated from the endosperm portion of some seeds. The coagulated part of some commercially important latexes such as chicle and jelutong are often referred to as non-elastic gums or masticatory (chewing) gums, but they are not gums in the proper sense of the word. (FAO 1995)


A diabetes mitigating Prosopis gum adhesive used in a transdermal delivery system for diabetes pharmaceutical preparations exist. The antidiabetic properties of Prosopis gum alone and as a bioadhesive base for the delivery of metformin has been tested. The gum showed moderate antidiabetic properties when used alone. The release of the drug was higher from prosopis gum based bioadhesive formulations. In combination with metformin in a bioadhesive form, the glucose lowering effect of metaformin or Prosopis gum alone was found to be synergistic. The drug was found to work better in combination with the gum than the drug by itself. The results obtained with a traditional bioadhesive formulation were relatively less than those of metformin in an aqueous system or the combinations of metformin and prosopis gum (Adikwu et al. 2000). A medicine has been designed which uses Prosopis gum as the adhesive and to aid the delivery of the drug. On its own, the gum has been found to have diabetes-mitigating properties. The drug in a patch also has diabetes-mitigating properties. Separately the gum and the drug has modest diabetes mitigating activity but when placed together in the patch system the two form a synergy that is more effective than the two apart.


The galactomannan gum found in the seed is similar in composition and use to gum Arabic or gum acacia often found in ice creams and other products as a binding agent. It is used to form emulsions in medicinal preparations and is high quality mucilage. Below is an excerpt from Michael Moore’s Materia Medica professing the virtues of Mesquite gum:


Dr. G. G. Shumard introduced to the profession a species of gum discovered in Texas and New Mexico, and which answers the purpose of gum acacia, forming beautiful mucilage with water. It exudes spontaneously from the Mezquite tree, in a semifluid state, and hardens in a few hours, forming lumps of various sizes and colors, which whiten by exposure to sunlight, all finally become translucent and often filled with minute fissures. It is called Gum mezquite, mezquit, muckeet, musquit, etc. The tree from which it is obtained is the Algarobia glandulosa, Torrey and Gray (Prosopis dulcis of Kunth, or P. juliflora of De Candolle). It is from 25 to 40 feet high. The tree yielding this gum is also found in California and Mexico, and south to Chili and the Argentine Republic. The uses of mezquite gum are identical with those of acacia.”


“Water soluble gums have traditionally been produced from Acacia species, particularly A. senegal. This gum is of the highest quality and is the benchmark with which all other exudate gums are compared. Comparison of Prosopis gum with gums from traditional gum producing species show that Prosopis species produce gum of similar quality, with that of P. juliflora being almost identical in chemical composition to that of A. Senegal” (Anderson 1986 in Pasiecznik et. al. 2001).


“A useful by-product of the Mesquit-tree is a gum that exudes from the bruised bark and may be used for the purpose of gum arabic, which it much resembles” (Bartlett in Moore 2003). The amber-colored exudate is soluble in water, but not in alcohol, ether, or oils. Gum of Acacia is also known as Gum Arabic. It forms thick, adhesive mucilage with cold or hot water. If allowed to evaporate the gum will be left with its properties in tact. Gum Arabic is considered nutritive as well as demulcent. It is used to soothe mucous membranes in cases of dysentery, gastritis, bronchitis, coughs, colds, hoarseness, diarrhea, and of typhoid. It is consumed dissolved in cold water for as many days as needed or the stomach will bear. Mixed with sugar it becomes an excellent delivery vehicle for medicines.




          The leaves of Kiawe contain large amounts of nitrogen. Leaves regularly drop from the tree because of wind, drought, or damage to branches. Leaf litter around the tree contributes greatly to the production of soil. In Peru this is a valuable resource that is harvested and used for crop production. In Peru, the fallen leaves of P. pallida are valued as a compost, known locally as ‘puño’. Papago Indians used to leave some mesquites in their fields and gathered leaf litter from the edges of the field to dig into the soil around their crops. (Nabhan 1987) Alcohol extracts of leaves have been shown to control several species of nematodes. The leaf tea has excellent potential as a liquid fertilizer. It may be viable to harvest kiawe green prunings and produce nitrogen rich compost tea or soil amendment for crop production here in Hawaii. Most often however, the benefits come by way of companion planting with kiawe as a nurse tree providing nitrogen rich leaf litter, shade and moisture retention.  Much of the nitrogen in the leaves is lost before making it to the soil but the nitrogen fixation from the roots helps the decay process of the nutritious leaves on the ground. Cows will browse young tender kiawe leaves only when nearly starving. Goats have been observed to relish the bark of younger (6-10” dia) kiawe trees (Gordon 2006).

More research is needed to elucidate the chemistry of kiawe in Hawaii and determine what compounds in the leaves may be useful to both local herbalism and conventional pharmaceutical preparations. Many alkaloids have been isolated from P. juliflora. Some of them are listed above in the sectin on chemistry. Cows don’t eat the kiawe leaves very often – unless they have to. (Dawsett 2006) One study demonstrated that after 20 years, P. juliflora adjusted the soil pH from 10.3 to 8.03 and increased the soil available carbon from .12% to .58%.

P. juliflora litter falling on the ground adds to the humus content of salt affected soils. The organic acids from the decomposed litter react with the calcium carbonate in the soil and releases calcium which substitutes for sodium in the exchange complex and thus Prosopis helps in the reclamation of alkali soils. Stands of P. juliflora can yield 5-8 t/ha of air dried leaf litter after 4-6 years, containing 2.2% nitrogen, 0.2-0.4% phosphorus, 1.5-1.9% potassium and sodium content generally less than 0.2%. The annual turnover of macronutrients to the soil through litter would be 88-132 kg N/ha, 8-16 kg P/ha and 60-76 kg K/ha. Such nutrient additions through litter fall will raise the fertility status of salt affected soils which are otherwise deficient in essential plant nutrients. P. juliflora helps reclaim salt affected soils more effectively than other trees such as Acacia spp., Eucalyptus spp., Terminalia spp. and Albizia spp. of the same age and stocking rate. (Singh Undated)




Chlorophyll producing plants capture energy from sunlight to produce all of the molecular building blocks of life. Trees like Kiawe produce many sugars for food within its cellular matrix. At the leaves, auxins (growth hormone) like indole-3 acetic acid cause the tree to orient towards the maximum amount of sunlight available. The sugars are born here and will eventually move down to the roots to feed the foundation of the tree. Once an abundance of food has gathered into the roots the tree can flower and produce seeds and fruits. The sugars rise up from the roots, through the trunk occasionally being combined with tannins and thickening agents and used to plug up wounds or insect burrows, then finally arriving into the tip of the female flower where hopefully a hungry bee with pollen-covered legs will gather. Bees accumulate medicinal secondary metabolites found in flower nectar, add enzymes and convert it into honey. Once the pollen has arrived in all the right places, seeds begin to grow within a sugary sweet, fibrous outer coating, eventually forming the bean pod. The bees require water. Honeybees are vegetarian eating only nectar and pollen. (Graham 1992)


          Honeybees on the mainland of the USA are in trouble due to pathogens. To combat these pathogens beekeepers are using an arsenal of mitacides and antibiotics of all sorts. Hawaii is unique in the world because Hawaii has managed to avoid most of these diseases. This enables true sustainable, organic honey production. At one time Hawaii was one of the world leaders in honey production due mostly to Kiawe and the early production at Puakō specifically. Honey production in Hawaii needs serious attention because Hawaii could again become one of the world leaders in organic honey production. Now there exists an opportunity to fill a niche with little to no competition – pharmaceutical grade, raw, medicinal honey, propolis and bee pollen, sustainably produced utilizing compassionate beekeeping techniques coupled with organic agricultural practices from Kiawe in Hawaii. This rare opportunity may only be available in a few select sites like Puakō, Hawaii and on Molokai’i.  High quality, raw, medicinal grade honey with antibacterial, and diabetes mitigating properties is currently produced in Puakō, HI.


Medicinal honeys in New Zealand and Australia are focused mostly on the ‘Manuka’ trees (Leptospermum scoparium). The Maori have used ‘Manuka’ for medicinal purposes due to the essential oils found in the leaves. Two properties make the honey medicinal. The first is naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide found only in raw honey that has been produced in a manner very conscious of the ephemeral nature of peroxides. The honey must be preserved in its raw state and kept away from heat and exposure to UV radiation. The secondary metabolites sequestered in the honey from the host tree (in this case Manuka) are the second contributing factor to the honey’s medicinal virtue. The same may be true for Kiawe White Honey. At least in the case of Volcano Island Honey Company (VIHC), the honey is already produced in a manner that meets or exceeds pharmaceutical honey standards. As we have seen Kiawe contains antifungal, antimicrobial, antibiotic properties throughout the tree in addition to the diabetes mitigating properties noted from the Genus as a whole. When properly handled and crystallized under the right conditions, raw Prosopis honey is a pure white, creamy substance with the consistency of butter. In this form it is easy to spread on wounds or to eat by the ¼ teaspoon. This is true medicinal grade honey. Studies have proven the powerful antibiotic properties of raw honey. Some honeys in New Zealand and Australia have proven to be more effective against certain infectious microorganisms than conventional antibiotics.


Diabetics suffer from insulin imbalance, which wreaks havoc on their organ systems. Diet is an important factor that all diabetics must watch carefully and usually all carbohydrates are either reduced or completely off the menu. However, some kinds of honey may be an exception. While honey contains mostly sugars (sucrose, glucose and fructose) it also contains powerful enzymes and secondary metabolites sequestered from the host tree. In the case of Prosopis, it is known to contain properties that are diabetes mitigating in nature. An example is the new dermal patch for the delivery of a diabetes medication mentioned above. The mucilage exuding from the tree flows in the nectar and therefore is picked up and sequestered by bees in their honey. Anecdotal reports indicate that when Kiawe honey is consumed in its raw state, people with diabetes recognize a lowering in insulin levels. More rigorous scientific testing is needed. Whether this is due to the enzymes present in the raw honey or the secondary metabolites it is not yet known but most people who have tried raw kiawe honey agree that it is something special, and beneficial to their health. Kiawe honey does tend to have high levels of sucrose naturally. On one occasion VIHC sent their honey to Japan and had it almost rejected because when the Japanese authorities inspected the honey they found it so high in sucrose they believed it had been adulterated with sugar. As we have seen above – sucrose is not a problem for diabetics. Dry honey raw mixed with flour and greens desiccated in a chamber with silica gel or some other desiccation system would create a raw diabetes bar.



The relationship between Prosopis and honeybees is an old one. People have known this for a long time and used to take special care to bring the bees and the trees with them on travels.  Entire branches full of wild hives and flowers may have been cut and brought onto boats. The flowers fed the bees and the bees would stay with the flowers feeding from the nectar. Usually branches will have both ripe and unripe flowers and pods at the same time. This makes it possible to carry the seeds of new forests, bees for pollination and nectar to feed the bees. Thus, the system becomes one of: kiawe, bees, pods, cattle, honey, firewood, fence posts, mead, beer, etc. (Ref?) – Bees came here imported from Germany (black bee) initially and are very defensive. Maybe they weren’t Italian.  Feral bees of defensive black bee – out in wild. Keeping domestic bees bred for qualities of gentleness and productivity amongst others is a good thing that helps to mellow the populatins of wild bees in Puakō. With out these bees, the wild bees would be messing with the local community but the domestic bees kept in the forest help to breed with and therefore change the genetics of the wild bees for the better.


In Puakō Hawaii, some people believe that the Parker Ranch originally brought the bees there not for honey but to increase pod production for feeding the cattle. Honey resulted as a byproduct (Ananomous 2006). Actually Robert Hind who began the sugar plantation planted the first kiawe trees in Puakō as a windbreak near the old sugar cane plantation office. The trees are still standing today on the Mauna Lani land. The trees are large founders with straight trunk trees perfect for posts growing up around them. The huge trees are obviously windblown in the same direction planted in a perfect straight row.  Eventually the honey was so successful that at one time Hawaii was one of the worlds leading exporters of honey, much of which was Kiawe honey coming from Puakō (Esbenshade 1980). “Wild bees were too wild and crossed with bees at Puuwawa. Hawaii has developed a special breed of blonde, gentle bees that are both highly productive and disease resentant. “Wild bees love the native tree Mamane (Sophora chrysophylla), a relative of Kiawe. The tree flowers twice each season, is a good nectar producer for honey production, and habitat and food for native birds. There’s not as much mamane forest now, especially below 1000 feet” (Paris 2006). Instead, most nectar productivity comes from Kiawe or Christmasberry on the leeward coast. Kiawe quickly filled the niche left behind by the former natives.


[One] Mesquite [tree] produces well over a million flowers in a season. (Nabhan 1987) The flowers of Prosopis species are regarded as a valuable source of bee forage, and honey has become the most widely derived food product from Prosopis (FAO 1995).Large amounts of top quality honey were exported from Hawaii for several decades, based on the large woodlands of introduced P. pallida. Increased pollination is noted in honey producing areas and is seen to have positive effects on fruit production” (Esbenshade 1980). In Mexico, India and Hawaii particularly, commercial production of honey from P. juliflora and P. pallida has been developed. These industries are important to local economies, with the additional advantage that pod production is improved where hives are present (Esbenshade 1980; Varshney 1996). An often-overlooked constraint to increased honey production in arid zones is water availability for bees, with a need to provide adequate quantities of fresh water near to each colony (Esbenshade 1980). In Hawaii, honey from P. pallida earns a price premium over honey from other species because of the high quality (Esbenshade 1980).


“In 1901 honeybees were introduced onto the island of Molokai to take advantage of the large areas of wild kiawe that grow along the southern and western coasts. Not only did the yields of kiawe pods substantially increase, but the island gained a reputation of being the world’s largest producer of honey by producing 500,000 lbs in 1930.” (Esbenshade 1980)

“The Molokai ranch Company managed 2400 colonies of honey bees before American foulbrood disease in 1938 forced abandonment…” (Esbenshade 1980) “The average annual surplus of honey per colony prior to this time was 120-150 lbs.” (Esbenshade 1980) “Substantially higher yields of 500 and 800 lbs of honey per year have been reported from the kiawe woodlands found in the Puakō region of the island of Hawaii…” (Esbenshade 1980) 1-3 hives per acre for maximum pollination! Keholo and Puakō state lands are good kiawe country. Houses in Puakō used to be kiawe trees, Mauna Lani used to be kiawe. Anchioline ponds indicate ideal kiawe country. Good subterranean water is the key.


“The honey industry in Hawaii is dependent almost entirely on algarroba blossoms, and the clear honey product is most delicious. Its flowers furnish the most important source of pure honey known in the territory. The yield of honey is recognized as large and important and occurs at (least) two seasons” (Wilcox 1910). The Goto’s played a pivitol role in the development of kiawe honey. The honey was packaged and shipped in 5-gallon cans (Paris 2006). Historically, hundreds of thousands of pounds were produced in Puakō in a single season (Paris 2006). Kiawe is the greatest producer, has a tendency to crystallize forming a creamy white honey naturally (Paris 2006) Apiarists at the Puuwawa Ranch on the Big Island used to mix kiawe and mamane honey together to keep it runny and derive a broader spectrum honey from a nutritional perspective (Paris 2006).



“The kiawe tree has become its own worst enemy. The present stands of kiawe forest in the Puakō area of the big island of Hawaii has become so thick that only a top canopy now exists. The floration and the yields of beans and honey has been severely reduced” (Luce 2006).


Burkart (1943 in Silva 1990b) estimated that bees may extract enough nectar and pollen from a single flowering tree to produce over 1 kg honey, which could yield an equivalent of 100-400 kg/ha/yr depending on tree density. Other data are more general, only relating to production over unspecified areas. Hawaii was estimated to be the largest honey producer in the world in 1930, producing over 225 t of honey/yr, primarily from P. pallida, with mean production (surplus) per colony estimated at 50-70 kg/colony/yr, and other estimates as high as 225- 360 kg/colony/yr (Esbenshade 1980). These estimates were made of the Puakō forest. (This would equal 106,800 lbs annually from 300 productive acres in Puakō!) Between 1900-1936 apiarist Allen Luce kept Bees in Hawaii. Powers Apiary (Allen Luce) got thrown out of Puakō for having too many hives and bees. 2 cans (* 60 lbs/can) 120 lbs per colony on Molokai. Puakō yields were higher. The Lymans, Parker Ranch, The Goto’s all had hives in Puakō at one time. Density and spacing of trees are key to productivity of the forest. When trees are more scattered they are 10-20 times more productive than currently. When the bloom gets to thick the forest needs to be thinned (ie. when the canaopy closes). West end Molokai similar to Puakō – Big trees, brackish water - Hillside is shrubby. On Molokai there is lots of kiawe – huge forest there. The leeward coast of Molokai’i kiawe forests may be same or similar in size and productivity to the forest in Puakō (Dawsett 2006). The density of apiaries was 50 colonies per coastal mile on Molokai’I Island. 2,400 colonies produced 500,000 lbs on Molokai before American falbrood disease in 1938. The honey was known to crystallize into a creamy white solid mass on Molokai too. They learned to watch the timing. Dry the comb before it is put back out so the honey is not seeded with crystals. An efficient way to address this issue is to let the bees clean the frames. Frames of comb brought back from the honey house after extration are left out in the hive yard to be robbed clean by the bees.  In Puakō bees got honeydew from sugar cane during the time of year when the kiawe was not blooming. Then a parasite was intentionally released to kill that bug. That action was lamented. In 1951 a moth attacked kiawe on all islands and ate immature flowers. When the trees finally bloomed nothing emerged but aborted flower buds. 1953 saw the accidental introduction of the cosmoptery gid moth (Ithome concebrella) witch destroyed the bloom. A parasitic wasp from Arizona was introduced as a biological control of the micro Leprodoptera moth.


Intercrop for Additional Bee Forage

A hybrid of the mixed species agroforest (See Management below) would be a simple intercrop of other trees or shrubs that somehow accentuate or otherwise stabilize the Kiawe agricultural system for the purpose of meeting specific production criteria. For example, a bee forage intercrop could be added to guard against a Kiawe bloom failure, which would destroy the honey crop. This is tricky in the case of Kiawe monofloral honey like what is being produced by VIHC. How to have another crop to guard against crop failure without ruining the crop in the process? The addition of two crops would aid this industry. Puakō already has a certain percentage of coconut and honey farmers in the area regularly pull frames of coconut “contaminated” honey. It is the opinion of this author and many of the honey farmers including the owner of the honey farm Richard Spiegel that the coconut honey is of equal quality to the kiawe and a blending of the two is a pleasant surprise. The addition of palms like Coconut (a Hawaiian canoe plant) or Loulu Palm (Prichardia spp.) would significantly increase the value and stability of the Puakō Honey operation or any other Prosopis honey operation where appropriate. Coconuts begin to flower after 4 years and then flower continuously for the rest of their life (60-100 yrs depending on the variety) (Elevitch 2003). During non-flowering times for kiawe the coconut would provide bee forage that would enable the honey operation to continue through the winter with out moving the bees elsewhere on the island in order to build population of the colonies. During the flowering season both honeys can be collected together as a bi-floral honey of supreme quality or the coconut flowers can be cut quite easily so that the purity of the Kiawe monofloral honey be retained. Coconut would eventually break through the canopy of the kiawe and form an overstory with out significantly slowing kiawe production. Coconuts would also provide nuts that can be harvested and used for oil production, water, activated charcoal, copra, etc., an industry that does not exist in the state of Hawaii. Further more, understory crops can be planted which are devoted to either leis or cut flowers for the hotel industry and/or flower essences. In both cases the flowers are cut when they are ripe and would only minimally interfere with Kiawe honey production. An excellent candidate for both flower essences and native plant restoration in the Kiawe forest is Alahe’ e (Psydrax odorata). This large shrub or small tree would grow well in open spaces intercropped with Kiawe and would provide a unique crop. Yields of honey from coconuts would be expected to be equal to that of kiawe during the off-season for kiawe bloom effectively doubling the yield of honey from the same acreage per season.


Pollen, Pollination and Resource Conservation

The bees pick up pollen as they move from flower to flower, sipping nectar, which will later be brought back to the hive and converted to honey. Prosopis has developed an interesting adaptation to living in such harsh arid climates where resources are often scarce. They have learned to conserve resources by having a certain percentage of trees that do not produce nectar. Nectar is technically not needed in the process of fertilization but pollen is. The trees will fool the bees long enough for them to come and visit flowers in search of nectar only to find some of the trees are producing nectar. By the time they figure it out they may have already pollinated many dozens of flowers. In this way the tree gets pollinated in times of scarcity when little water or nutrients are available to the tree to squander on nectar production. Pollen is a very rich source of protein containing all of the genetic material of the parent tree. This protein is used by the bees to feed the brood and is considered an excellent high quality human food. Some people thrive on pollen as a primary source of protein. However, it has been found that some species of Prosopis are the principal source of wind borne allergen in the Middle Eastern countries. The species responsible is believed to be Prosopis juliflora, which does not live in Hawaii. The Hawaiian pollen originating from Kiawe (P. pallida) is a light yellow – tan color with a creamy texture and soft flavor, relished by those people fortunate enough to have access to it. Some beekeepers indicate that the pollen from kiawe is not a complete protein and good food. However, observation of keepers is that the pollen coing from kiawe is just fine for the bees. Pollen needs to be analyzed. Gus Rouse – Kona Queen. Ask Barrie…



Kiawe beeswax is a beautiful white color when it is raw. In other countries the wax from Prosopis is an important commodity but here in Hawaii it is rarely seen because it is rarely collected and formed into any products for the public. However, the wax was melted into cakes and shipped out around the time of the honey peak in the 1930’s (Neal 1991). It would be nice to see this product more thoroughly explored and made available. Though, at least one company producing Kiawe honey is working to recycle all of its collected wax into making foundation frames for the bees to draw comb upon (Spiegel 2006). This is a very efficient utilization of a byproduct of honey production. Furthermore, salves, lip balms and sunscreens can be produced using beeswax as the base.



Recently, the propolis originating from the Puakō Kiawe forest on the Big Island of Hawaii was tested and found to contain lower lead levels than what is normally found in conventional propolis products. Normally, propolis must first be extracted into alcohol and purified of its lead content before being distributed on the public market because in its raw state the lead levels do not meet FDA standards. The propolis tested in Puakō was found to have a lower lead content in its raw state than most others that have been pre-purified of lead. This is an incredible find and makes it possible to produce the only raw propolis product on the market. This may be a testament both to the purity of the forest and to the gentle organic beekeeping practices of Volcano Island Honey who produce the propolis and steward the forest. There were no roads to Puakō until after 1950 which means there was less lead accumulation from car emissions than places that have roads for longer. VIHC does not use lead based paint in their hives and this may also greatly contribute to the purity of the products that their bee colonies produce. Del Mar Laboratories in Phoenix, AZ prepared the analysis. Can you say “Prosopis Propolis” three times in a row real fast? J


Kiawe White Honey

Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is a unique product that comes from one unique forest on the Big Island of Hawaii. Conditions in Puakō are hot and dry – the hottest spot on the island. Other beekeepers have given up on honey production in Puakō because the honey tended to crystallize in the frame (Spiegel 2006). If harvested too early the moisture content will be too high and the honey will ferment. If harvested too late the honey will crystallize in the frame and it will not be able to be extracted without melting honey and wax and therefore is not raw. Workers gather nectar and deposit it in the wax comb. The bees use their wings as evaporators. Once the nectar is ripened into honey it is capped with wax to preserve it. The bees keep each hive at a constant 96 degrees F. They must have access to water. Often the hive boxes have the lids left slightly open for natural airflow and ventilation. The honey must be hand-selected frame by frame and must be the right moisture content. Prosopis honey frames are checked regularly and harvested weekly during peak season. Timing is everything because if the honey is harvested too early it will ferment due to high moisture content or if too late it will crystallize in the comb. Once crystallized the only way to extract is via heat, which is unacceptable. Kiawe honey crystallizes very rapidly forming tiny crystals that give white honey its firm smooth texture. (Spiegel, 2004) Monofloral honey comes from monotypic forests that extend the full range of bee forage (Approximately 2 miles). Monofloral honeys tend to be liquid when harvested and solidify to a smooth pure white if crystallized under optimal conditions (Spiegel, 2004). Honey may be seeded to catalyze crystalization and standardize the quality. Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey crystallizes naturally via timing. Kiawe honey may be seeded with a 1:60 pound ratio and optimal crystallization occurs at 57-59 F. 15-17% moisture content is ideal for the honey. Honey with 20% moisture will ferment. Some people stir the honey for about three weeks to create an even smoother, creamier product but this oxygenates the honey destroying many enzymes and peroxides.

Smokers are used sparingly. VIHC has devised a special means of allowing the bees to escape before harvest time. The bees leave the hive through a one-way door called a “bee escape”, so that by harvest time they have completely vacated the box. This way the bees are spared from harm or being transported to the honey farm many miles from the forest. During the season, the honey is prepped, pulled, extracted and bottled each week at a rate of about 2,300 lbs per week from approximately 90 boxes yielding around 25 lbs per box. The Hives are prepped on Thursday and pulled on Monday. Tuesday morning extraction begins. The combs are uncapped, spun in the extractor and strained into 2 large stainless steel storage vessels. Wednesday morning the honey is bottled, labeled and packaged for shipping, then stored in a large cooler that keeps the temperature constant. Puakō is hot and dry on the coast and Ahualoa where the honey farm is cool and wet at above 2,200 feet. The system used in Puakō may be exportable to other sites locally and globally for the production of raw Prosopis honey that is high quality pharmaceutical grade. This could translate to greater profits for people of poorer countries like India and would make more readily available a valuable commodity.

Volcano Island Honey Company, LLC are pioneers in organic, sensitive, beekeeping. They use non-violent methods of handling their bees. VIHC’s beekeepers are completely dedicated to honoring the needs of the bees, caring for each and every bee as if each one matters. They use non-toxic certified organic methods in creating their Kiawe White honey. Honey created in this way is of pharmaceutical grade. Pharmaceutical grade honey is not heated. They have developed a system over 3 decades that hand selects each frame of honey at the peak of its maturity. If the honey is harvested too early it will ferment and too late it will crystallize in the frame. The honey is not to be heated. Raw honey is the medicinal honey. It is important to capture the honey right when it has the correct moisture content and before crystallization occurs. This is why they pull honey frame-by-frame, hand selected at the peak of perfection. The honey crystallizes quickly and so must be processed immediately. The honey needs to crystallize at just the right temperature in order to have small rather than large and grainy crystals. The end product is a smooth beautiful honey, creamy in texture and taste. It is essential that the honey originate from a monotypic stand. If the forest is monofloral, the end product will have maximum purity and clarity. When the forest is monofloral it will be possible to concentrate the properties of that particular species into a pure honey for maximum effect. The production of this exquisite honey has only been possible in Puakō, Hawaii because of the density and isolation of the monofloral Kiawe forest residing there and the vast quantities of available fresh water. Other forests of similar isolation and purity exist in Keholo Bay just south of Puakō and on the Island of Molokai’i. These forests do not reach the production levels of Puakō however, because of Puakō’s natural underground irrigation from the aquifer and deep soils. It may be possible to source other Prosopis forests around the world with similar site conditions. Their production methods need to be expanded to include larger volumes and then taught to other beekeepers for the purpose of creating more pharmaceutical grade honey from arid tropical kiawe forests as a means for making, maintaining and expanding these forest as an economically viable endeavor. Efforts to do so should be undertaken immediately and the knowledge and equipment to do so be exported to those locations deemed suitable. Areas with potential are: Gujarat, India, northeastern Brazil, northern and southern Peru, southern Ecuador, South Africa, Haiti and Australia as well as any of the locations where Hawaiian Prosopis genetics were exported to. Most of these places are often economically depressed developing countries that would greatly benefit from the increased prices gained from the sale of high quality honey and reforestation. In the case of India, the Prosopis derived honey being produced has already received a Grade A rating for medicinal honey.


“The honey is produced by a rare species of honeybee, Apis floriea, that is found in large numbers in Kachchh district due to its peculiar climatic and environmental conditions. The honey produced by Apis floriea is regarded as one of the best quality of honey from the medicinal point of view, with an “A” grade by researchers at the Central Bee Research & Training Institute (CBRTI) in Pune. In view of the increasing honey demand, the corporation has proposed a scheme for honeybee rearing to increase honey production in the Kachchh district. GSFDC honey enjoys high acceptability in the local market due to its purity and reasonable price. By rearing the domesticated variety of honeybee in selected areas of Kachchh district, the production can be increased. In this new process, modern methods of extraction from combs will be applied using new technology developed by CBRTI.”  (Varshney 1996)


            Most honey in India presently sells for about US $.18/lb. (Shumate 2006) At this rate there is much room for improvement in terms of price per pound fetched by the producers. Additionally, the more economically viable the forests in these regions become, the better they will be cared for. At Third world labor rates it may be possible to produce the rare Kiawe White honey in locations other than Hawaii for less money thereby making it more accessible to those in need of its medicinal properties. Ideally everybody benefits.


Medi Honey

Medical honey is receiving a lot of attention in Australia and the UK because some honeys have been found to protect against resistant superbugs, such as “golden staph” (Simon 2006). One study on honey concluded that “tumor implantation was markedly decreased by the application of honey pre- and postoperatively. Honey could be used as a wound barrier against tumor implantation during pneumoperitoneum in laparoscopic oncological surgery and in other fields of oncological surgery” (Hamzaoglu 2000). Honey has the power to assist in the healing of wounds of all sorts. Another study found that “topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes” (Al-Waili 2004). Another study examined honeys ability to heal burns in comparison to conventional burn treatments. “The wounds treated with honey healed earlier than those treated with conventional methods. Residual scars occurred 3 times more in patients treated conventionally versus those treated with honey (Subrahmanyam 1996). Honey has repeatedly shown itself to be effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria (Cooper 2002). Until recently little attention has been paid to the source of the honey, the season, and location of harvest. Different honeys may be tested for activity by placing small amounts on a petri dish of agar that has been previously inoculated with a bacterial culture. If the honey has antibacterial properties the cultures will not develop in the area dabbed with honey (McCarthy 1995). Three characteristics of medical grade honey:


*Honeys from some floral sources contain unidentified substances that intensify the sensitivity of antibacterial substances to denaturation or breakdown by light

*Honeys differ in their antibacterial activity due to varying levels of hydrogen peroxide. Variations in the hydrogen peroxide level of honeys from different floral sources is attributed to plants having different levels of catalase; an enzyme in honey which breaks down hydrogen peroxide.

*Processing and handling of honey can also affect its antibacterial activity. Exposure of honey to light and high temperatures (ie. as used in pasteurization) will decrease its antibacterial activity. (McCarthy 1995)


Honey intended for medical use should be collected from areas where no pesticides are used and from hives that are drug and pathogen free. Kiawe may have not yet been officially screened for its medical honey potential but it has all the makings of a winner and the way it is being produced in Puakō meets all the criteria for a true medical grade honey.


Prosopis Mead

Fermented Prosopis honey products or mead has not been explored much. While mead is quite possibly the world’s original fermented beverage of choice there are few modern mead makers with internationally marketed products and perhaps even fewer making mead products from Prosopis. Some of the benefits of making mead from Prosopis honey from an ecological perspective – Prosopis is a nitrogen fixer and tends to be much more pest resistant than something like grapes which is intensely cultivated in alley crops schemes, requires much in the way of nutrient inputs, and the harvesting and production processes are far more complex than simply collecting honey, extracting and fermenting. A new industry may be possible in harsh climates using saline water sources. Prosopis mead may present itself as a new option for greening the desert while making novel products of commerce. The few experiments that have been done here in Hawaii taste promising. The Kiawe mead seems to be a bit sweeter than most wines but with a little practice experimental brew masters feel they can capture a beverage every bit as satisfying as a fine Chardonné wine? With honey and mead you get something with the look and flavor of a white wine but without the tannins, rather it will have the flavor of the honey and its characteristics.


Ethnofermentologist Evan Short (2006) offers this recipe for Prosopis mead: “The fresher the honey the better.”


For mead I follow this general guideline: 

2lbs honey/gallon water= dry mead,


4+lbs/gal= dessert mead. 


Heat to 160 f.

Allow to stand for 20 min at this temp.

Cool to 75 and add to fermenter.

Add yeast. 

Aerate and allow to ferment. 

After 1 month, change to glass carboy. 

Let sit for 1 month until all bubbling has stopped and things have settled out. 

Move (or rack) to bottles, cap ‘em and let them sit. 

Dry sit for 6 months, med.= 9months to 1 yr, sweet=depending on how you like them. 

Probably no less than 2 years. 


*From 40,000 lbs Evan can produce ~ 13,333 gallons / 750ml = ~ 5 * ~$10 = $666,650 wholesale value – This can be produced from B-grade honey if necessary, though fresh Grade A honey is best. Honey production is expected to increase many fold post fire mitigation.


*It may cost Less than ~$250K for an operation suitable for this level of production and would be able to switch feedstocks depending on market whims.

*Mead is slower than Ethyl alcohol production because the conditioning time for mead is longer.

Reusable bottles – “Grolsh style”

Ideally this is all produced and consumed on site / on island, within the state…


Son Shiro Yanno – knows the honey business @ Puuwawa – knows the bees

Ichiro Yamaguchi (885-4693) – lives in – Clinton at Lex Brody’s dad did honey

Across the street = green roof – Ichiro’s place.

Allen Lindsey (885-4214)– Cowboy




Uses – human food, animal food, beer, gum, fiber, protein, raw food


In North America, early explorers noted that: “a principal form of sustenance in its season is the pod of a tree which is called mesquite. Indeed, the Spanish term algarroba applied in Mexico to the Mesquit bean, is a case of transference, algarrobo being the word used in Spain for the carob-tree”. “These pods, when ground, they drink with water. This drink, being somewhat sweet, is to the people what carob is to the Spaniards ” (Nabhan 1987). Mesquite has been the staff of life for many cultures throughout time. (Nabhan 1987) “The pod is pounded up in wooden mortars made from the mesquit tree trunk hollowed out by fire and set firmly in the ground. A long, slender, stone pestle is used to pound with. The beans are so brittle that enough for dinner can be prepared in eight to ten minutes. The meal is mixed with water and eaten so, being sweet and nourishing”. Gardener and raw food extraordinaire, Coconut Chris, reports that he will not eat and swallow whole raw kiawe pods anymore because the subsequent bowel movements were painful. No problem with ground kiawe pod flour (C.C. 2006). “The edible part is the pulp of the pods only; the seeds are not digestible by either man or beast, but will pass through the digestive tract unchanged. However, by pouring warm water over the seeds a sweetish, rather lemon-tasting drink is made and much relished by the desert Coahuillas” (Bartlett). “The Pima Indians of Southern Arizona formerly used mesquit meal as a makeshift for sugar, mingling it with their wheat or corn pinole to sweeten the latter” (Bartlett).  The raw beans picked from the tree may be chewed with enjoyment and some nutritive profit” (Bartlett). “In fact mesquite has primacy over cultivated grains in southwestern cultures” (Nabhan 1987) The River Pima (Akimel Tahono O’odham) refer to ground Mesquite pods made into atole as “Pechita”. (Nabhan 1987) “Mesquite breads and beverages could be made without cooking and therefore without the expenditure of fuelwood making them an important energy saving food in often fuelwood scarce regions”! (Nabhan 1987) “The Mexicans make a sort of gruel, called atole de mezquite, by boiling the mesquit pods, mashing them to a pulp in fresh water, and straining. A nutritious beverage is thus obtained, agreeable to some tastes” (Bartlett). “The quality of mingled acidity and sweetness which they possess before perfect maturity acts also as a thirst preventive, much as do the pods of the carob tree of the Mediterranean basin” (Bartlett).


Sweet, fresh pods were commonly chewed in indigenous cultures, and are today still consumed raw by children and in rural areas. Pod processing techniques developed, with pods being dried in the sun and sometimes roasted on hot coals which also kill the bruchid beetles that otherwise damage the pods. They were pounded with pestles or ground with stones or rollers, into a flour of variable consistency. Seed and endocarps could be separated at any stage in the process or left and ground with the mesocarp. The flour can be mixed with water to produce a refreshing and sweet drink (‘añapa’ or ‘yupisin’), or fermented slightly (‘aloja’) (Bravo et al. 1998). This liquid can be concentrated by evaporation into a very sweet syrup (‘mel’ or ‘algarrobina’). ‘Yupisín’, is a beverage, which is obtained by water extraction of the sugars from the pod. In contrast to ‘algarrobina’ it is consumed directly without concentration or used to prepare desserts with sweet potato flour. ‘yupisín’ is presently consumed only in rural zones , and it is not bottled. A very similar beverage is known in Argentina as ‘añapa’. Flour was mixed with water to make a gruel, or made into a dough which can be cooked into a bread (‘patay’) or eaten sundried (‘atole’) and these breads contain 1-5% protein and 45% sugars (Burkart 1952, Felker 1979) and can be stored for long periods. Many of these products are still made today, and are produced commercially in several cases.  A fermented beverage, ‘aloja’ can be obtained from ‘añapa’ and is a substitute for beer or wine (Cruz 1986; Ochoa 1996). In Peru, no fermented beverages are prepared commercially from the sugary pulp of P. pallida (Grados and Cruz 1998). The pods were boiled to make a nutritionally rich syrup and the left over mash was fed to cattle and found to still be of nutritional value. The syrup can be added to honey for mead making. Prosopis pod flour is being used to make an enriched broth for culturing fungi (Bravo et al. 1998).


“While we have observed that all these Peruvian pods have high sugar content, a very high percentage of these large trees (78%) had pods that had a bitter or very bitter taste. Therefore it is not surprising that previous introductions to Africa and India were from trees that had pods unpalatable to humans” (Alban 2002). “We have found considerable variability in the sweetness of the pods in the native range, some pods being very sweet and highly palatable while others are astringent, bitter and acidic” (Alban 2002). The quality of the pods started with is important. Sweet pods equals sweet flour. Clonal Prosopis orchards should greatly facilitate the development of this human food based industry” (Alban 2002).


“The flour can be incorporated into a variety of food products including bread, biscuits and cakes. These are sometimes consumed in the native range of P. juliflora and P. pallida in Peru but rarely elsewhere and not at all where the species have been introduced. The absence of starch is, however, a limitation to Prosopis flour levels in bread formulations. Mixing 5-25% Prosopis flour with wheat flour produces products which have acceptable taste. The rheological behaviour of P. pallida wheat composite flours has been studied (Cruz 1986), and P. pallida flour causes dough resistance to decrease and dough elasticity to increase resulting in softer leavened bread. Sweetbread containing 5% P. pallida flour is acceptable in texture and taste. Up to 25% P. pallida flour has been used in making biscuits, which reduced the amount of additional sugar required. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste reported by some after consuming these products, but which some people, however, find pleasant (Cruz 1999). In Brazil, the production of a protein isolate (Baião et al 1987) and a protein-enriched flour (Ruiz 1997) from P. juliflora seeds and its application in bread making have been reported. P. pallida pulp flour can also be used as an ingredient in many other food preparations, such as cakes, ice creams and other desserts. P. pallida pulp flour has been converted into an instantly soluble powder, and could be used as a cocoa powder substitute. A similar ‘instant’ soluble powder derived from carob (Ceratonia siliqua) pulp is currently commercialised. A preliminary study has shown that a soluble powder can be obtained from the fine Prosopis pulp flour by re-milling and sieving through a 100-mesh screen (La Torre 1990). In order to improve the dispersability in milk, yoghurt and juices, the agglomeration of the fine powder should be studied. Improvements to the nutritional or sensorial properties of Prosopis pulp flour have been achieved by mixing with other cereal flours and with cocoa (Grados and Cruz 1996). New food products from Prosopis pods are being developed in Peru by adapting processing technologies to rural situations. A powder called ‘garrofina’ is produced from finely ground whole fruits with small, rural pod processing mills. Coffee substitute has been made from P. juliflora in Brazil (e.g. Azevedo Rocha 1987), with the roasting of just the coarse pulp flour giving a better flavour than roasting the whole pods (Carrión 1988). Flour is roasted at 120°C until it becomes dark brown, during which time it agglomerates into larger granules requiring further grinding. The final product is used in the same way as filter coffee granules. Compared with other coffee substitutes such as roasted beans or cereals, it is generally well accepted by consumers and has an acceptable flavour. Prosopis coffee substitutes are caffeine free (Vieira et al 1995). Coffee substitutes or ‘café de algarroba’ are produced and successfully commercialized from P. pallida pods in Peru, packed in 250 g plastic bags at a convenient price under the manufacturers’ own trade names (Cruz 1999).”



Kiawe pods can contain in excess of 40% sucrose. This is a large amount of sugar that lends itself quite readily to fermentation. People in South America have been making fermented beverages called “aloja” for centuries, a tradition which continues today in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina and possibly elsewhere (Pasieznik et al.). Modern mesquiteros in the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico use the chaff from Mesquite grinding to make homebrew (Landcaster 2006). Experimental Beers and soft drinks have been produced on the island of Hawaii using kiawe pods as the foundation. The results were flavorful, retaining the signature flavor of kiawe. Using sweeter pods gives a better beer. The Kona brewery once experimented with aging one if its beers with chunks of kiawe wood in the cask with apperantly barely detectable results. Locally produced beer substrate would be quite useful to local brewers and potentially economically beneficial, especially if the mash is utilized for subsequent products. The mash byproduct can be recycled and used as mushroom substrate, animal food, or both.


Evan Short offers these general guidelines for Kiawe Beer: “The kiawe could be used as an adjunct to barley to offer its own characteristic flavor.  Possibly you could substitute the pounds of barley for pounds of kiawe grain.  Since the kiawe has more available mono and di saccarides. Heat the grain less, to alpha/beta diastase levels (ie between 145-160 F) than you would have to do with barley (high in starches, low in soluble sugars).”


Animal Food


“The present shortage in feeding stuffs and the possibility that communication between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands may be interrupted demand that every effort should be made to increase the supply of feeding stuffs grown in Hawaii.” (Johnson and Ching 1918) “As a forage crop algarroba is of far greater financial value” (than honey). “The pods are everywhere recognized as one of the most important grain feeds of the islands and are greatly relished by all kinds of livestock, including chickens” (Wilcox 1910). “Mesquite co-evolved with mega fauna” (Nabhan 1987) “Cows and horses fed mesquite pods serves to enhance the germination rate of the seeds inside” (Nabhan 1987). “One consequence of the hardness of the seed - which contributes to the ability of Prosopis to spread so easily - is that it remains intact during ingestion of the pod by browsing animals and emerges later in a suitable state for germination” (FAO 1995).


“The seeds are embedded in a sweet, gummy pulp containing about 25 percent grape sugar. An­nually in Hawaii, about 500,000 bags of pods are gathered for fodder” (Neal 1991). (Or ~ 25,000,000 lbs of pods annually.) The 50 lb bags fetched about $1 per bag for the collector at that time (circa 1930). These were used to feed to the cattle and other domesticated animals. There were 3 silos (approximately 2500 square feet per silo) for storing pods in Keholo. One man apparently kept them full by dutifully picking the beans everyday (Paris, 2006). “Stock are allowed to gather the fallen pods in the dry season when the pastures are barren, and they are also picked up and stored and fed to stock when the trees are not in bearing. Good results have been secured from grinding the pods into a meal which retains its original odor and flavor, without change, for six or eight months and is no more subject to the attacks of insects than any other grain feed. The bulk of the protein in kiawe resides within the seed. Kiawe contains between 35-45% protein in the endosperm with some reports listing it as high as 60%. The protein content of the pod compares favorably with oats, barley, wheat, corn and other grain foods.” (Fosberg 1966) “As a whole, the algarroba bean makes a well balanced ration without modification” (Fosberg 1966). According to Paris, 2006 there are no problems with whole kiawe pods used as feed.Horses need more greens or they will get constipated” (Paris 2006). The Paniolo would fatten the cows on kiawe and other feed along the way. The pods do not need to be ground. A Couple of months on kiawe and they will be fat. Keep them on the lowlands for about a year and then go to market. This was important for the periodic cattle drives from Puawawa Ranch to Puakō and ended sometime after the late 30’s (Paris 2006).


Monogastric animals like chickens, pigs, humans and fish have the least challenges when digesting Prosopis pods. They are not as affected by the sugars as other animals like cattle are. All monogastric animals are known to do quite well on Kiawe. Hawaiians employed pigs and chickens in the management of kiawe from the beginning. Horses, cattle and donkeys may have been the major vectors to the spread of kiawe forests initially. However, cattle can have a hard time with a diet solely of kiawe unless supplemented with ample grass. The reason is the high sugar content can have a negative effect on the ruminant in the gut. The pods are not efficiently or effectively digested and form a wad of cellulose that becomes impacted. This has led to deaths of cattle in Hawaii. Monogastric animals like pigs, chickens, fish and humans don’t have this problem but there are some challenges to consumption even for them. Chickens will need the pods crushed, and fish and humans will require the pods to be milled into flour in order to release the protein inside the seed. Pigs will need an addition of slop. For most animals the seeds need to be ground up or at least broken open to make the protein inside available. However, pigs are known to be able to completely digest raw Prosopis pods, seed and all thereby not furthering the spread of the tree. Trypsin inhibitors are a serious anti-nutrative factor that has been studied intensely. Legumes commonly contain compounds like trypsin inhibitors. Prosopis is a rare exception being an edible legume with no serious feed inhibiting toxins. Prosopis fruits have been found to be nearly completely devoid of trypsin inhibitors and one report from Brazil suggests that any anti-nutrients present in Prosopis can be degraded via exposure to temperatures of 140 F for approximately 8 minutes.


With the exception of pigs and to a large degree sheep, it is generally recognized that animals require the seeds to be broken and or ground before consumption. Good pig feed and cow feed (Paris 2006) Hog wire fences in Puakō – let the wild pigs in castrate and spade and once a year ship crates of hogs out from Keholo & keholo (Paris 2006) Like the half wild pigs cause they were good for imu – low fat (Paris 2006). They drink brackish water (Paris 2006) Patches Damon – domestic pigs can’t handle the brackish – even the cattle in lowlands do really well – get extra minerals (Paris 2006). According to Mollison 1989, pigs require 11kg/day of legumes, comfrey, chicory and young grasses (grazed by horses or cattle or mown) they also need seed, fruit or kernels. An average stocking density = 20 pigs/4,000 m2 (1 a.) 100 pigs in 2 ha = 40 ha (100 a) in 18 months. They will remove small shrubs *2) sowing, 3) cattle, 1) pigs again 100 pigs per 100 acres = 2 months.


Hereford cattle with pale faces… (Nabhan 1987)


Ground pods fed to cattle, did not show any adverse effects, but under uncontrolled feeding the pods gave deleterious effects, resulting in the formation of a compact ball of indigestible pods in the rumen, which caused sickness and even the death of cattle. (Saxena Undated)

Garcia (1916) suggested that the pods must be ground to secure their full nutritive value, since 25% of the total weight is seed, which would otherwise pass through the animals gut undigested. Alder (1949) observed that 1% of cattle fed solely on P. juliflora pods became sick and died due to compaction of undigested pods in the rumen. Deleterious effects on the health of livestock eating P. juliflora pods as well as dry leaves has been observed in the Kutch and Banaskantha regions of Gujarat state, attributed to indigestion and impaction (Anon, 1981). This fatal effect was caused by the regression of rumen bacterial cellulose activity due to the high sugar content (30%) of the pods. (Saxena Undated)

Thus the pods should not be given as the sole ration to animals because such feed has occasionally fatal constipating effects. Secondly, animals offered higher levels of pods should be supplemented with phosphorus rich feeds such as rice polish or wheat bran and cakes. However, Prosopis pods did not show the presence of any cyanogenic glycosides unlike other conventional feeds (Mahadevan, 1954). In fact, the pods are very low in tannins (1.5%) and oxalates (1.1%) (Talpada, 1985) and are devoid of alkaloids (Gujarathi, 1979). (Saxena Undated)

An increase in live weight gain and positive balances of nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus were found with feeding levels up to 30%. (Mathur and Bohra Date?)


*An island fresh dog-food is being developed that uses kiawe pod flour as one ingredient. Trials are in the beginning stages as of 12/06.


Aquaculture and kiawe go hand in finJ

Historically, Hawaiians practiced Aquaculture in ankioline ponds. The kiawe trees producing pods that are of low palatability to humans may simply become animal food. By biologically converting the raw protein and nutrients from kiawe pods into a more acceptable human food like fish, mutton, ham, or beef the efficiency of the forest [management?] increases dramatically. Apparently fish consume optimally as much food as they can in a 15-minute interval or roughly 1-3% of their body weight daily. The remaining 80% of pods can be fed to animals on-site, as it is a known fact amongst ranchers and farmers of all sorts that it is more efficient to bring the animals to the food source than visa versa. This could pose problems socially. There have been complaints in the past of dust from cattle and the modern residents of Puakō have greatly influenced the presence (or lack there) of animals and other dust producing equipment in the forest. Cattle would really only need to move through the forest rarely but especially in the first stages of fire mitigation. This would significantly reduce fuels on the ground and make the forest far more navigatable for human workers on foot with chainsaws in tow. Sheep follow behind the cows and pigs would do the final cleanup. The pigs and sheep would do the most in terms of seed destruction and slowing the spread of the forest. But eventually, the pods will drop again and those will need to be captured and disposed of in some useful way.

The greatest expenses in aquaculture are fish food and transport. However, what if the fish food can be produced on site and the final product need only travel less than 4 miles away? This would result in dramatic increases in profitability to the producers and over all efficiency to the production system. Kiawe holds out the potential to do just that. Fish require fresh protein feed. Kiawe meets the demand in at least two ways: ground pod meal and invertebrates grown on kiawe wood. Analysis reveals that fish are extremely efficient biological converters. Generally it takes about 1.5-2.3 kg of fish food to yield 1 kg of fish flesh. Chickens are half as efficient and beef, mutton and pork require double or triple that of fish. Large volumes of accessible brackish water, aquaculture seems a likely candidate for Puakō. At a ratio of 2:1 (food to finished flesh) the remaining 80% of marginally palatable pods from the highly productive 300 acres in Puakō could yield a maximum of approximately 480,000 lbs annually of fish flesh ready for market. This could mean as much as $500 K – $1.5M in extra revenue. This doesn’t factor in the cost of setting up the infrastructure for aquaculture in Puakō. However, on the private side of the land are very large quarries that have been the source for rock materials for activities in the area. These large excavations may be the perfect beginnings for several large aquaculture ponds. It is known that 60-70% of the costs in aquaculture are from the fish food. Another 10-20% of the costs are recognized from transportation either of the food or the final product. However, in the case of Pauko, the fish food is growing on site and the final product may not need travel more than 5 miles in any direction to be delivered. This means a truly economically viable onshore aquaculture project could be realized in Pauko. Again this is still only looking at the potential of the 300 highly productive acres… A diversity of brackish water fish may be grown in Puakō including:  prawns, shelfish, [*prawns, shellfish, fresh water, tilapia, freshwater muscles] and other brackish water tolerant fish. The effluent of this aquaculture system may be used to water and feed the forest, nearby golf courses or other as of yet identified future modules of the system. The pods may be converted into insects: termites -> wood and pods can be used to farm invertebrates for fish food! Dano Gorsich – Molokai’I – cockroach mulch heap. Large animals were integral to the origins of the Puakō kiawe forest and they may still need to be an integral component of a functional system until a new more diverse species complex emerges or the system is altered entirely.


Nutrition and Medicine – nutritional composition, medicinal potential

Kiawe fruits may be classified into several useful fractions during processing. Both high protein and fiber concentrates have been developed as well as whole food flours. High protein products are suitable for aquaculture food and human / animal supplements. High fiber flours are perfect additives for foodstuffs and nutritional supplements addressing diverticulitis, heart disease, and diabetes. Most enhancement programs for Prosopis have not involved the direct chemical manipulation of Prosopis genes; therefore it is a non-GMO food. Kiawe is gluten free, non-European grain, and a hypoallergenic food. In North America in the 1800’s locals learned that the amino acids in European grains were complimentary to their traditional foods. It was known that wheat mixed with mesquite produced a dramatic increase in protein quality (Nabhan 1987). Chemical studies of Prosopis cotyledon show that 65% protein and 7% oil are present. Fatty acids in this cotyledon oil have been quantified: palmitic 12.56%; stearic 9.6%; oleic 28.99%; linoleic 39.30%. This oil is of high quality, needs no bleaching treatment, and has a low acidity (1.7%) and an iodine value of 103. Prosopis cotyledons can be considered a source of proteins for other foods (Grados and Cruz 1991). “The fruit with an average carbohydrate content of 47.3% and seeds with 33.6% protein” (Esbenshade 1980). “…they could be a valuable source of nutrients, especially for monogastric animals” (Esbenshade 1980). “Wherever the belts of algarroba timber are large it has been found possible to maintain stock for a month or two of each season without any other forage than algarroba beans.” “If the pods are fed whole, the protein content is largely lost and the pods do not furnish a ration so well balanced as would be the case if the seeds were rendered digestible. However, experience has proven to island ranchers that supplemental roughage must be provided for animals when they are ingesting large quantities of beans or death will occur from rumen stasis and impaction” (Esbenshade 1980). It is extremely important not to eat pods that have molded. William Paris observed that cows that eat moldy kiawe pods can get sick and those that eat molded monkey pod fruits can die. It is not known at this time what particular mold would cause this but there are a number of candidates that are capable of killing a large animal if eaten by a hungry cow in significant quantities. “There seems to be only one objection to them, and that is a slight flavor given to the milk” The solution for this is to feed the beans after milking rather than before milking. The fruits are not only good for animal food. In fact some modern vendors have elevated Prosopis pod flour to the level of a human super food! “Nearly all native consultants agree that the best tasting pods are from trees that yield fatter, larger, pods.” (Cornejo et al.)


Research has been initiated in several Yemeni research centres to optimize the use of Prosopis pods in animal fodder and to use Prosopis spp. as a component in agroforestry systems. It can be expected that the importance of pods as fodder supply will increase when natural conditions become harsher, seasonally and locally. The collection and sale of pods has already become a profitable enterprise for local people. (Geesing et al. 1983) Another study (Geesing 2002) found that the production of easily storable food from sweet Prosopis pods (about 25 percent of all pods in the area of intervention) amounted to about 1.3 kg per day per inhabitant (approximately 38,000 at present). Tasting panels found that replacing up to 10 percent of the traditional flour (millet, maize or sorghum) with Prosopis flour did not negatively affect the taste of traditional dishes or even made the taste agreeable (Kaka and Seydou 2001).       


“Assisted by a Brazilian expert on pod processing, several mills were locally manufactured and adapted to local needs to produce flour from Prosopis pods. Several millers and technicians were trained to produce the different flour fractions for human and animal consumption and to keep the mills from becoming clogged as a result of the high sugar content in the pods. At the same time, a committee of local women trained by a Peruvian expert promoted the use of Prosopis flour in human food (including as a coffee substitute). The techniques were also demonstrated at local markets and by NGOs in the area. Today, more than 500 women have been trained in the use of the flour in local dishes, and more than 500 pastoralists, farmers and technical staff were taught improved techniques of exploiting the new resource. The results were presented in two workshops to a local, national and international audience. The project produced extension material in the form of booklets and a video, which was shown on the Niger’s national television. (Geesing et al.) Today’s visitor to the area will not find the ingredients of traditional dishes replaced by Prosopis pod flour, but the authorities and policy-makers have become aware that eradication is not feasible and that the resource is underexploited. The Prosopis forest, which was before considered threatening weeds, is today considered a resource whose exploitation can contribute to containing its uncontrolled spread and can also help mitigate, rather than aggravate, the precarious food situation, especially in times of severe drought and food shortage” (Geesing et al.).


Flour is used in the preparation of couscous, rolls, biscuits, crumbed steaks and as thickening agent for soups, as well as combined with beans and honey to replace traditional flour. The flour is known to be an effective anti-diabetes food due to its ability to stabilize the blood sugar. Syrup is consumed pure or with flour, either as lunch or as after-dinner item. It is also used in the preparation of a number of medicinal expectorants. The syrup can also be fermented into alcohol. Syrup is used traditionally in South America to help increase lactation. In Peru Algarrobina is a syrup made by concentrating an infusion of Prosopis pallida pods. Tea made from P. pallida pods is considered good for digestive disturbances and skin lesions. The tea makes a naturally sweet beverage hot or cold. Coffee made from the pods has an aroma, which resembles traditional coffee, resulting not only from caramelization of sugar, but also from chemical changes of several compounds, depending on the roasting methods. Kiawe coffee substitute has advantages over real coffee. It is a non-stimulating, non-caffeinated, non-toxic, hot beverage with a flavor similar to real coffee. Due to the natural sugars remaining in the roasted Kiawe pulp flour, it has some nutritional value that coffee does not offer. The fiber content of unrefined Prosopis flour is of exceptional quality. It has been found that heart disease, diverticulitis, colon cancer, and diabetes are mitigated by a high fiber diet (Reference ?). People suffering from the above imbalances would benefit from the addition of kiawe to the diet. Studies performed in Arizona on the Tahono O’odham tribe have demonstrated that when they return traditional foods back into their diets their insulin response was lowered. This phenomenon should be studied amongst Hawaiians as well for it is highly likely that the response is not only cultural but does in fact have a basis in biology. It has been suggested that Kiawe flour be combined with taro in burger type preparations. There are no starches found in Kiawe fruits. Kiawe fruits are a low glycemic index food.


“New food products from Prosopis pods are being developed in Peru by adapting processing technologies to rural situations. A powder called ‘garrofina’ is produced from finely ground whole fruits with small, rural pod processing mills.” The fruits used to produce this flour come from wild harvested trees in Northern Peru. This author has imported kilos of the powder to Hawaii in an effort to test the acceptability of the product locally before embarking on the acquisition of expensive, essential, processing equipment. So far the reaction to this product is positive. It has been used successfully in the production of a kiawe cake that uses no European grains, is gluten free, soyless, non-toxic, non-GMO and organically produced. A combination of this product and kiawe honey in their raw state with the addition of kiawe bee pollen (and possibly propolis) would produce a tasty food acceptable to those with diabetes. It is sweet, nutritious and flavorful. Local gourmet chefs would do well to experiment with this flour and create novel preparations for consumption to add to the local cuisine pallet.  The seeds contain the same gum that is used in the diabetes medication patches.


As with other seed gums, the galactomannan component of mesquite seed is contained in the endosperm, which constitutes about 30% of the seed by weight. The seeds themselves are embedded in a hard endocarp and represent about 10% of the pod weight. A major obstacle to the economic recovery of the seed gum is the toughness of the seedpod and the difficulty, firstly, of separating the seeds from the surrounding pulp and, secondly, splitting and cleanly separating the endosperm from the germ. (FAO 1995) The most pressing practical problem to be overcome is that of separating the seed from the pod and obtaining reasonably pure endosperm from the seed. If this was to be done with the aim of producing gum for the international market it would have to be achieved at a cost which compares favourably with locust bean or guar, but still gives the farmer an adequate economic return. For a farmer who presently grows mesquite as a source of animal feed, the economics of gum production still need to be favourable enough to divert him from feed to gum. (FAO 1995)The research needs should therefore include:


*Techno-economic evaluation of methods for obtaining seed endosperm of a satisfactory quality from mesquite.

*Investigation of the functional properties of mesquite gum vis-à-vis other seed gums.


An investigation of the potential market for mesquite gum (domestic and international) and the economics of production (assuming the other aspects, above, have favourable outcomes). (FAO 1995)


Yield – theoretical yields based on literature citations and harvesting methods:


Determining pod production can be difficult because yield can vary due to climatic factors and other seasonal variations, micronutrient availability, rainfall, insect damage, etc. The 2006 season began to bloom two months later than it usually does. This set back honey production and therefore pod production. However, generally there are a few environmental factors to look for. Deep bottomland soils, flood planes, and areas with anchiolie ponds are ideal places for Prosopis pod production. “Long-term (average) pod production can be determined by landsat methods on a per unit area basis.” (Cornejo et al.) Here we will cite the extreme highs and lows reported in the literature and extrapolate by cutting the lowest and highest numbers. The data set of Prosopis pod production potential for Puakō is presented in Table 1 below.


“Yields of 10 tonnes/ha of pods have been reported from cultivated mesquite in Brazil, equivalent to a yield of about 1 tonne/ha of seeds or 300 kg/ha of gum (endosperm). Elsewhere, 2.3 tonnes/ha/year of pods have been reported from a density of 118 trees/ha, equivalent to a yield of about 20 kg/tree” (FAO 1995). “4,000–20,000 kg/ha pods in arid Hawaiian savannas” (Duke 2003). A large portion of the pods are allowed to fall on the ground and are eaten by cattle, hogs and horses, without being previously picked up. It has been estimated that approximately 500,000 bags of the beans [in Hawaii] were annually picked up and stored, particularly for feeding horses and cattle. Beginning of the century – 350,000 bean industry = “The pods were gathered, stored and milled in order to take advantage of the protein in the seeds for the supplemental feeding of dairy cows, horses, donkeys, pigs, and chickens” (Esbenshade 1980). “Up to 140 kg per tree in as few as 8 yrs with 395mm rainfall/yr” (Alban 2000). A report from Brazil indicated that in a well managed plantation (spacing 10 x 10 m) of P. juliflora, an average 6 t pods/ha/year are produced with some trees producing as much as 170 kg of pods annually (Tewari et al.).


Yields of pods in the early years are generally very low compared with yields from mature trees and may not accurately reflect pod yield from a mature stand of Prosopis trees. A two year-old tree may produce 2 kg of pods, 3 kg in the third year, 4 kg in the fourth year. In the fifth and subsequent years, the crown should be sufficiently well developed to see much larger increases in pod yields. Silva (1990b) stated that pod yields increased gradually until the trees were 15-20 years old, earlier on better sites, with pod yield in 2, 10 and 40 year old stands estimated at 2, 50 and 16,500 kg/ha/yr (36,300lbs/ha/yr = 14,696lbs/acre/yr = $88,176/acre/yr) respectively. However, Otsamo and Maua (1993) found no difference in pod yield with stand age. Pod production could be expected to remain approximately constant until trees reached an age of 50-100 years, but exact information on the maintenance of fruiting vigour with increasing age is lacking, particularly where introduced and very few trees if any have reached an old age. A sample of recorded and estimated pod yields from P. juliflora and P. pallida shows a large range of production. Lima (1987) noted that production from Prosopis spp. in Chile ranged from 10-160 kg/tree/yr and in Argentina from 5-100 kg/tree/yr. 100-160kg/tree/yr = high. Estimates ranging from 14-12,000 kg/ha/yr and up to 140 kg per tree. The productivity rate used for calculating the gross yield of 1 hectare of P. juliflora was that indicated by the emater (1978) production system. Production per hectare is 500 kg of pods in the third year after planting; 1,000 kg in the fourth year; 1,500 kg in the fifth year, and 3,000 kg from the 6th to the 20th year. (1215 kg/acre = 2673 lbs/acre = 2,673,000 lbs/1000 acres = $16,038,000) (Rosado and Ribeiro 1990) Wider spacings, in excess of 10 × 10 m, enable greater canopy development and, consequently, higher fruit output. Trees with an average of 100 m2 vital space at the Bebedouro experimental station, Petrolina, produced pods at a mean rate of 78 kg/tree/year. [3,120 Kg/acre = 6,864lbs/acre *1000= 6,864,000lbs *$6= $41,184,000] (Lima 1990) According to Shukla et al. (1986), a 1 ha Prosopis plantation could yield about 12 t pods/ha/year (19 kg pods/tree and 625 trees/ha) and thus from the 44,830 ha of P. juliflora plantations in Gujarat state alone, over 0.5 million tonnes of pods could be harvested each year. (Mathur and Bohra)


“At maturity mesquite pods fall to the ground over an approximately 4-week period, which facilitates harvesting. In developing countries, the pods can be hand harvested. “Women and children pick up the beans and sell them for from $7.50-$10.00 a ton, it is apparent that this feed has a much higher feeding value than its actual market price, particularly when compared with the high price which must be paid for imported feeds” (Felker 1984). “In developed countries, we envision use of a side rake that would go beneath the tree canopy to windrow the pods to the center of the rows. The windrowed pods could be picked up with a device similar to hay baler. The cost of windrowers or rakes to traverse a hectare once is approximately $14. If as many as 5 passes were required, the harvesting cost would be $70/ha or $23/ton, assuming a 3t/ha yield” (Felker 1984).




Desert Harvester Brad Lancaster had the following advice with regards to harvest, drying and milling Mesquite pods in Arizona: “It is better to collect off of tree than off ground. Rinse and beware of black mold. Heat and dry on metal roof, hood of car, racks or the like until the pods snap like crackers. If pods are wet at all, they will gum up the machine! Beetles are not a problem. Just shake them out before grinding. They come out of pods during drying process. Often they come perfectly dry right off the tree if collected at the right time”. (Lancaster 2006)


*Harvesting Notes: 8/24/06

Picker poles, pruning saws, weedeaters, rake, machete, bamboo poles, tarps, 55-gallon drum, etc?


1)     Prune with folding saw and machete

2)     Prune with chainsaw

3)     Weed-eat grass

4)     Rake the grass and woody debris

5)     Tarps

6)     Shake, rasp, release

7)     Gather and load

*Rake->Sift->sort->wash->break into pieces->dry->mill


It appears as though the best method of harvest is just picking the beans up as they fall each day fresh and storing them until enough have accumulated to warrant milling. In this way each pod is hand selected to have no holes or insect damage in pristine condition for milling of human food. If for animal food or biofuel, the pods need only be raked up. Richard Spiegel of Volcano Island Honey has observed that the pods taste extremely sweet when they are not yet fully ripe and postulated that it may be possible to simple juice the unripened pods for the sugar and chlorophyll content (Spiegel 2006). This warrants further investigation. This author tasted pods at this stage and found them to be generally bitter. In India, it has been reported that the pods are harvested using picker poles and ropes. They are apparently harvesting all pods at whatever stage of development the pods are at during the time of harvesting. They are also cooking green pods as food and so it may be useful to harvest everything at once and sort the pods based on maturation. Experiements with picker poles and ropes here in Hawaii have demonstrated that this is not the most efficient method of harvest because this method has the potential (and in reality usually does) destroy newly forming flowers and unripe pods. For this reason, Hawaiian harvesters have choosen to stick with the traditional method of allowing the beans to fully ripen to the point that the stem of the pod is brown and ready to dehisce naturally. Ideally, the pods are plucked from the tree at this stage. When that is not possible it may be beneficial to cover the ground surrounding the tree to be harvested with weed cloth. This will give the pods a clean surface to fall on and facilitate harvesting all of the pods at once by simply picking up the cloth and dumping all of the pods into a storage / transport container at once. In this way, what once took several hours to harvest is now done in minutes. Weed cloth is available in large rolls locally.


Currently, the greatest impediment to a widespread economically viable Kiawe industry is the cost of labor for harvesting the pods. In Peru where Kiawe originated and where most of the Prosopis pod products come from, women and children harvest the pods by walking through the forests and picking them up off the ground. This method yields an average of 150 kg per person per day. Of these pods collected, nearly 60% have been damaged by insects or animals. This is not much of a concern in Peru because most of it is going to be used as animal food. After they sort the pods, those suitable for human food are dried then milled. The drying process reduces the moisture content by half or about 6-7% moisture from 13%. The milling process is only about 40-60% efficient at converting raw dried pods to flour for human consumption. So these are where most of the losses in production occur and this is where there is the most room for improvement. In Hawaii, Skolemen quoting Stein, John D. 1981 has noted that the pods are burrowed by a black beetle, Mimosestes amicus, bores into the pods that have fallen to the ground. We do not have the same insect predation that Prosopis in other locales experiences. Therefore, it should be possible to have increased quality of pods collected especially if they are collected from the tree or immediately upon dropping to the ground before insects and animals have an opportunity at them. In India, collectors are utilizing harvesting methods that emphasize pod procurement pre-soil-contact. They shake the trees, use a long bamboo pole with a pruning saw blade attached to cut the clusters of pods from the branches or throw a rope over the branches and pull to release the pods. Nets, tarps, drop clothes, metal screens, etc. are laid upon the ground beneath the canopy to facilitate catching the pods, while keeping them clean, free of debris and soil and make dumping the pod collection into the back of a collection vehicle easy. This dramatically increases the quality of the pods obtained. These collections methods will work well in a mixed species agroforest where there are many different types of plants all requiring different needs in terms of light, spacing and level of the forest strata occupied. The challenge with actively harvesting the beans from the tree is that there often are unripe pods on the tree at the same time as ripe pods, mature and immature flowers. Shaking the tree at those delicate times can damage the beans-to-be and lower over all production. It may be advantageous to develop systems that are spaced in rows with few if any intercrops that will lend itself to alley ways for driving mechanized equipment to enable enhanced harvesting techniques. This is essentially the monocrops of Iowa cornfields and other agri-business industrial systems. We can look to the Macadamia nut industry or grain-harvesting industry for examples. Systems like this would work well in arid wastelands with low population densities where the desire is to plant enormous expanses of Prosopis where nothing else currently exists or where otherwise appropriate. One such context is for disposal of human or other animal effluent as is outlined below.


Drying Methods and Equipment:


Drying the pods prior to milling is crucial to the successful production of flower. Brad Lancaster 2006 noted that in Tucson, AZ if the pods are hand picked right off the tree at the peak of dryness during the right part of the season it is best. If selected at just the right time there is no need to further dry the pods. Instead they may simply be milled immediately after picking off the tree. Often times this is not possible or when all the pods from a single tree or forest are harvested throughout the season it will inevitably be necessary to actively dry the pods prior to milling. Home scale food dehydrators work well for small batches of a gallon or two of flour. The pods need to be placed flat on the trays and dried at 150 F for 4-5 hours immediately prior to milling. Some people will prefer to solar dry the pods either directly in the sun over a flat reflective surface, or in the shade with less exposure to UV radiation. Passive solar dehydrators are an excellent choice for drying Prosopis pods on-site in sunny regions. Propane dryers like those used in the coffee industry will work well in areas with more ambient humidity. Rocket stove dryers have been developed that use wood to dry herbaceous materials. Rocket stoves may ultimately prove to be the most sustainable and practicle over time. Whatever the method, drying is essential.


Production Methods – Milling and Processing


          “The usual (traditional) method of preparation was to toast or parch the pods to facilitate pounding the mealy pulp (mesocarp) into flour” (Cornejo et al.) Special metates called gyratory crushers – a matate with a hole in the center – most found in the Pinacate region of northwestern Sonora (Hayden 1967,69) (Cornejo et al.) Experiments in Hawaii from the early 1900’s found that: “The sugar is in essentially the condition of molasses and gradually accumulates on the milling machinery, forming a layer resembling vulcanized rubber in consistency, and ultimately causing a heating of the machinery so that it has to be stopped. The cleaning of mill machinery has once been coated with this layer is a very tedious and difficult operation. Special machinery was needed for grinding the beans. The addition of a very small quantity of water to the cracked pods was sufficient to render the sugar in the pods no longer sticky. The extraction of a portion of the sugar, by means of water, makes it possible to dry the cracked pods in a condition in which any feed grinder will successfully crack the seeds. The removal of a portion of the sugar, however, takes away some of the feeding value of the beans and renders an alcohol or vinegar plant necessary in order to utilize the sugar thus extracted. Mr. C. W. Renear…succeeded in divising a machine which would grind the fresh beans, cracking all of the seeds, and thus rendering them available for stock. The feeding test made by this station showed that the seeds thus cracked are completely digested by horses, mules and cattle”. “the advantage of a minute spray of water to prevent the sugary material from adhereing to the roller of the mill. After this device was adopted, no tendency was shown for the sugar to adhere, and the roller remained perfectly clean. The amount of water added in this process is altogether too small to endanger the keeping qualities of the meal. The sugar in the pods does not ferment unless considerable water is added. The keeping quality of the meal is quite sufficient for the ordinary demands of the trade. When kept in sacks or open containers it retains its original odor and flavor, without change, for six or eight months, and the meal is no more subject to the attacks of insects than is any other grain feed.”


Large-scale production requires a commonly used agricultural device known as a hammer mill. This kind of mill pounds the pods with tiny hammers while simultaneously grinding.

In an economic analysis of Prosopis pod product production in Peru and Argentina, it was found that the greatest limiting factor to profitability was pod damage before harvesting (Ref?). Nearly 60% of all pods collected needed to be thrown out during sorting because they were not fit for human food. Some private Prosopis pod collectors who intend to use the pod flour for their own personal use are not effected by this stating that “usually the insects leave during the drying process and any that remain are considered added protein”. However, for public consumption it is of course prudent to have zero insect infestation in pods slated for processing into flour for human consumption. We are fortunate in Hawaii to have a situation where the bulk of the insect damage to kiawe pods occurs after the pods have fallen to the ground. This gives collectors the opportunity to capture clean undamaged pods right from the tree. In India, pod collectors use long bamboo poles to rasp at the branches and knock the clusters of pods down into awaiting tarps, blankets and nets. Another technique employs the use of a rope thrown over branches and pulled in order to shake the branches so hard the pods are released. Harvestng in this way leads to inefficiency because unripe flowers and pods are damaged in the process. Obviously there is much room for improvement to the collecting process. Industrialization of Prosopis has been underway for at least a few decades and the advent of mechanical harvesting equipment similar to what is used in the harvesting of other nuts and fruits is surely not far away. In Hawaii, the machinery used in Macadamia nut harvesting may possibly lend itself to kiawe fruit harvesting. This is an area in need of much exploration.


Pods must be dried from 13% moisture to 6% before milling at air temperatures of 35 C (95 F) In Peru they must wash the pods with fresh water and sort them to get rid of pods with insect damage. Fruits are brushed to remove extraneous material and dried @ 60C (140 F) at a rate of 500 kg/ 4 hours. Largest cost is due to the low recovery of flour from total milled pods. Collection costs, sorting and profit are the next most important costs. 32% total dietary fiber content in P. pallida. 48 % sugar in the flour. 81 g/kg of protein in the flour, 7 g/kg fat, 3620 kcal/kg. 8-10% protein  - must be air classified during milling. 40-54% efficiency. Loose 6% to drying. Pod selection of trees uses the ranking scale of: very bitter, bitter, sweet or very sweet – only those that are sweet or very sweet are cloned. – superior height growth, pod production and pod flavor. Pods were selected to eliminate those damaged by insects, washed with water to remove sand, drained, and finally dried in an air-circulating tunnel dryer at 80-90 C (176 – 194 F) to reduce the initial pod moisture from 12 to 8%. Whole pods were milled in a domestic electric mincer (Tefal, Selongey, France) to separate pulp and seeds. Pulp was milled in a Cyclone sample mill (Tecator, Hoganas, Sweden) to a particle size less than 1 mm. The fruit pulp alone contains 8.11 grams of protein per 100 grams of fruit pulp dry matter. Milling the tough kiawe pods requires they first be thoroughly dried until they snap like crackers and then milled in a hammer mill or small-scale grain mill. De-stem the pods before milling.


Hammermill Equipment options:


Several methods of milling Prosopis pods have been developed. The choice of miling technique depends largely upon the desired end products. One process has been developed in Peru that selects for seed harvesting. Other methods have been developed in order to classify and fractionate all components into refinable products like protein concentrates, high fiber fractions, high sugar fractions, or galactomanan gum fractions. Some methods like those used for whole food development or animal food products use more straight-forward milling techniques for converting as much of the pod into edible flour as possible.


*Simple Laboratory Mill for Experiments:

“Whole pods were milled in a domestic electric mincer (Tefal, Selongey, France) to separate pulp and seeds. Pulp was milled in a Cyclone sample mill (Tecator, Hoganas, Sweden) to a particle size less than 1 mm” (Bravo et al.).


*Prototype Hammermill in Peru:

“The milling machine consists basically of a mill with fixed hammers mounted on the rotor and other hammers in the screen housing. The efficiency of seed extraction is about 45%, if the pods are dry. The rotary speed of the mill is 690 rpm, which was previously calculated to avoid breaking the seeds. The product of the milling is seeds, open endocarp hulls, flour, and fragments of pulp. These components are separated first by sieving and then by air classification. The fractions that can be obtained depend on the mesh of the sieves. Four fractions were obtained using 6-, 10-, and 60-mesh sieves. One fraction has the greatest quantity of seeds. In a wind tunnel with collection pockets, the seeds can be obtained free of endocarp fragments” (Grados and Cruz 1998).


“In process A, whole pods were milled in a prototype hammer mill provided with 15 hammers and a screen size of 5 mm diameter. Rotation speed was 860 rpm. After sieving and air separation, pulp fractions of various particle sizes were separated from seeds. Only one pulp fraction, the major one with a particle size 0.25 mm, was used” (Bravo et al.).


*Domestically Produced Hammermill used for making Mesquite flour in Arizona, USA.

“Normally for the purposes of grinding any material into flour I specify that the hammer mill have a fan discharge configuration.  With that in mind I would recommend that you operate the hammer mill with a 150-hp electric motor.  This electric motor will operate most efficiently at 480-voltage.  In order to start and run the electric motor you will require 150-kilowatts.  The mill is designed to operate 24/7.  The required maintenance is regular greasing of the bearings and monitoring the condition of the screen, hammers, and pivot rods.  As I do not know yet the size screen you require I have attached a general price list.  The selling price of the screens appears on page 6.  The selling price of replacement hammers and pivot rods appears on page 5.  An average yearly consumption of screens may be 30 screens.  I estimate that you will use 2 to 4 sets of hammers and 4 to 8 sets of pivot rods per years.  The machine requires 28 hammers per set and 6 pivot rods per set.  We normally choose to direct drive our hammer mills.  It may be possible if you purchase the appropriate motor starter to vary the RPM of the machine by changing the output hertz through the motor starter.  As a rule, though, the RPM is fixed”  (Brian Hege, 2006).


Meadows Hammer Mill Price List

Meadows Mills, Inc.

PO Box 1288, 1352 West D Street

N. Wilkesboro, NC 28659

Toll free 1-800-626-2282, Phone 336-838-2282, Fax 336-667-6501

E-mail: meadowsmills@charter.net



Model #5 Mighty Marvel Hammer Mills with capacities from 400 to 1,200 lbs. per hour depending on the screen size, shaft speed (normally 3,600-rpm), configuration of the hammers, and the product. The feed opening is 9" x 6". 3,504,000 lbs/yr – 10,512,000 lbs/yr Min/Max annual capacity (9600 lbs/day – 28,800lbs/day ~ 938 days 9M lbs)

Part # 20-05DHMI

 #5 – direct drive                                                      $1,780.00

Collector assembly, Part #'s in parentheses

Includes #1 collector (45-#1Coll), 4.5' of 4" pipe, four 4" rubber pipe

couplings, and one 4" 90 degree elbow (sell as 20-COLPIPAHM)   $425.00

Air Return assembly, Part #'s in parentheses

Includes air return for #1 collector (45-AIRRET#1), 7' of 4" pipe

(20-2167B), four 4" rubber pipe couplings (20-2167J), and one

4" 90 degree elbow (20-2171)                                               $325.00

Filter Bag System for #1 collector (45-FILTBGMT)                            $280.00

**The Model 5 Hammer Mill requires from a 5-hp to 10-hp electric motor. The cost of the electric motor, magnetic starter, and pulleys, bushings, belts (for belt driven applications) are not included in the above prices. Please contact Meadows Mills for prices on these items.

Hammers - 2 to 4 sets of hammers per year = $120 - $240

Hammer Mill Model # 5      

Size of hammer required    4" x 1" x 3/16"           

Part #20-2136                

# Required 24          

Price $2.50 Ea. ($60 / set)

Pivot Rods - 4 to 8 sets of pivot rods per year = $144 - $288

Hammer Mill Model # 5      

Part #20-2138               

# Required 4

Price $9.00 Ea ($36 / set)

Screens - An average yearly consumption of screens may be 30 screens = $750

1/64" $25.00 (20-2145A)

Screen Backing

3" Square $46.00 (20-2148A) *30(?) =  $1380

Total = $5,468 (good for one yr) = 400 lbs/hr



Model 85 Master Grinder with capacities from 4,000 to 10,000 lbs. per hour depending on the screen size shaft speed (normally 3,600-rpm), configuration of the hammers, and the product. The feed opening is 20 1/2" x 11".

35,040,000 lbs/yr – 87,600,000 lbs/yr Min/Max annual capacity (96,000 lbs/day - 240,000 lbs/day Min/Max daily capacity ~100 days for 9M lbs)

Part # 20-85DHMI

#85 mill with extended base for direct drive, motor coupling with guard,

material handling fan                                                 $7,790.00


Collector assembly, Part #'s in parentheses

Includes #1 collector (45-#1Coll), 4.5' of 4" pipe, four 4" rubber pipe

couplings, and one 4" 90 degree elbow (sell as 20-COLPIPAHM)   $425.00

Air Return assembly, Part #'s in parentheses

Includes air return for #1 collector (45-AIRRET#1), 7' of 4" pipe

(20-2167B), four 4" rubber pipe couplings (20-2167J), and one

4" 90 degree elbow (20-2171)                                               $325.00


Filter Bag System for #1 collector (45-FILTBGMT)                            $280.00

The Model 85 Hammer Mill requires from a 75-hp to 150-hp electric motor. The cost of the electric motor, magnetic starter, and pulleys, bushings, belts (for belt driven applications) are not included in the above prices. Please contact Meadows Mills for prices on these items.

Hammers 2 to 4 sets of hammers per year = $324.80 - $649.60

Hammer Mill Model # 85    

Size of hammer required    7" x 2" x 3/8" 

Part #20-2136A             

# Required 28          

Price $5.80 Ea. ($162.40 / set)

Pivot Rods - 4 to 8 sets of pivot rods per year = $480 - $960

Hammer Mill Model # 85    

Part #20-2311               

# Required 6

Price $20.00 Ea. ($120 / set)


Screens - An average yearly consumption of screens may be 30 screens = $2160

1/64" $72.00 (20-2319)

Screen Backing

4" Square $45.00 (20-2321K) = $1350

Total = $13940 (good for one yr) = 4000 lbs/hr

*#85 - 150-hp electric motor  - 480-voltage  - 150-kilowatts - designed to operate 24/7 = 3,600kW/day = 360,000 kWh/yr

**required maintenance = regular greasing of the bearings and monitoring the condition of the screen, hammers, and pivot rods


“We normally choose to direct drive our hammer mills.  It may be possible if you purchase the appropriate motor starter to vary the RPM of the machine by changing the output hertz through the motor starter.  As a rule, though, the RPM is fixed.  Please let me know if I can be of further assistance” (Brian Hege).


**These are the notes from my conversation with Brad Lancaster (“Desert Harvester”):

*10 gallons of pods = 2 gallons of flour (5:1 ratio of whole pods to finished flour)

*8 gallons = 10-15 min + 1 min to clean the chaff.

*8 gallons of whole pods per 20 minutes – turn off and wet/dry “shop vac” out the chaff.

*The chaff is used in making ferments (beer) and sweet drinks. No quantifiable amount of chaff collected specified.


*Meadow Mills #5 Hammermill + trailor + Honda 13.5 Hp motor (mounted and ready) = $5K

*No Diesel fuel if use a diesel engine as it taints the flavor of the flour – unleaded gas does not. Biodiesel or veggie oil may not taint the flavor either. Point the exhaust away!

*13-horse power Honda GX390 gas-powered motor

*Need a 220V motor – need a large array and battery bank – solar not practical even in the desert.


“We don't use more than 10 gallons of gas a season in which we run the mill for 24-30 hours.”

**Internet figures = 1/3 gal per hour = ~8gals gas /24hrs -> unleaded gasoline is ~$3 = $1/hr or $24/day


Comments above regarding milling challenges; clogging, caking, etc. focuses primarily on the sugars as the culpret.  Yet, the seed gum needs to be considered as an equally important factor in milling challenges. The gum when dry has a tendancy to bind and is therefore used as a binding agent as reported above. Saunders et al. (1986) described a 1000 kg/hr dry milling facility suitable for processing Prosopis pods into a high fibre fraction, a high protein faction, a high sugar fraction and a galactomannam gum fraction. Saunders et al. (1986) also described the suitability of the use of Prosopis flour into chapatis, crackers, flakes, leavened breads and tortilla chips.


Adapting equipment for Prosopis seed extraction:

“A meat grinder with some modifications has successfully been used to clean seeds. Dried pods are placed in a meat grinder with an end plate having 9.5 mm diameter holes. Operating the grinder liberates 20% of seeds from the pods. The rest of the seeds remain within the endocarp. The 9.5 mm end plate in the grinder is then replaced with one having 6.35 mm holes and the encapsulated seeds obtained in the previous grinding operation are further ground. By this operation the endocarp is removed from the remaining 80% of the seeds and clean seeds are obtained. This method is suitable for medium size nurseries as 7000 clean seeds per hour can be processed. It is quite easy to purchase a meat grinder from the market and obtain the correct size end plates from a small iron works enterprise” (Tewari et al. 2000).


Blenders usually don’t grind the seeds very well and are suitable for a primary seed recovery method. A discmill for grinding grains into flour by hand also works well. At the right setting the mill will grind the mesocarp and leave behind clean seeds. After being sifted and threshed the clean seed is ready. A tempeh of myceliated Prosopis seeds may be made using a brown rotting fungus as the live congealing organism. The seed coat of Prosopis is ligniculous. Brown rotters decay lignin.


Tempeh Recipe: ?


It is possible to process kiawe pods with low tech/Kitchen chemistry methods. A hand flour grinder (Disk mill) is effective for grinding the pods once they are very dry. Fresh pods can be broken by hand and placed into a blender with water. Using an excess of water makes it possible to separate seeds from pulp. This soupy blender method produces an excellent raw drink that is sweet, refreshing, and somewhat nutritive. Once blended the pulp is filtered through a large sieve and or some sort of fine mesh cloth like muslin or nylon cloth. If allowed to settle over night in a refrigerator the top layer can be decanted off for a nearly pure sweet liquid. This is ideal for ffurther concentrating via low boil or crok pot for producing sweet syrup. This type of syrup has less nutritive value but the flavor is excellent. For a more wholesome and nutritious syrup use the entire liquid portion. Both liquids form an excellent foundation for raw fruit smoothies. However, most of the protein is bound up in the seed and pulp. To derive the protein it is necessary to further pulverize the seeds mechanically, via mortar and pestle or using fungi to crack the seed coat. The seeds can also be isolated and cooked to make a gruel. Experimentation is encouraged.


Low Tech. Flour Processing Notes:


1)     Food Dehydrator 5 hrs @ 155 F

2)     Glass Blender – Fine grind on high

3)     Sift and bottle



The flour is extremely hydroscopic and began to gum up the equipment nearly immediately. This process needs to be performed in an arid environment or controlled environment. Dry the pods on wracks in an Excalibur brand food dehydrator at 155 F for ~5 hrs. Keep the dehydrator running and unload the pods one wrack at a time into the blender. Crack the pods in half prior to loading into the blender. Put the lid on the blender and turn it on high. Tip the blender around a bit to help move the contents around for thurough grinding. Pop off the lid and dump the flour through a sieve into a bowl. Stir the flour around with a wooden spoon and shake the sieve until all the flour has fallen through. Dump the chaff into another bowl. The chaff also contains seeds that can be separated later. Immediately pour the flour into a glass jar for storage preferably with a silica gel packet. One can make at least one gallon of mesocarp flour this way per hour. This method works perfect for homescale flour production and yields fresh flour for cheap. The flour does contain some seed material but most of the seeds are retained whole in the byproduct. The seeds are probably sfficiently scarified by this method to allow for direct sowing or the seeds can be collected and made into tempeh and the endocarp seed hulls used for brewing beer, making compost, burning or papermaking. The key to success with this system is to keep the pods as dry as possible in the dehydrator until immediately prior to grinding. Once ground and sifted, store the flour immediately in a dry container.


*Pods dried in food dehydrator, ground in a blender, sifted with several size sieves and finally winnowed with a rotating fan produced ~2 gallons of flour, ~ 1 pint of pure seed, and enough chaff to brew a small batch of ferment.


Factors that enhance pod production


There is a significant correlation between crown diameter and the number of pods produced. The larger the crown diameter of the tree the greater will be the number of pods produced (Cornejo et al.). In Hawaii (Fosberg 1966) noted that kiawe “Begins to bear pods when six years old and even younger”. Spacing is important “-grow up much too close- the individual trees remain too small and the yield of beans is less than would be the case if the trees were thinned out, so as to give a chance for each tree to spread its full limit. The thinning process would nearly pay for itself in most localities in the fuel which would thereby be obtained.” Without pollen shed and bees, insect-pollinated, self-incompatible plants such as Prosopis cannot produce fruit. The trees also benefit from honey production via increased successful pollination events thereby leading to increased fruit production. In fact, it is rumored that the Parker Ranch first introduced bees to Puakō in an effort to increase fruit production for cattle feed. At that time honey was the byproduct. Now it is reversed. Prosopis selections have been found that grew well on a nitrogen free media equivalent in salinity to one-half seawater. Salt is thought to contribute to sweeter pods as it does with watermelons. Phosporus is often low in semiarid soils that would decrease nitrogen fixation and probably delay fruit maturation as it does in other annual crops. Wood is the most concentrated source of available phosphorous known. Therefore, wood chips from the trees created during thinning and fire mitigation are given back to the soil to eventually feed the trees. “Another possibility for low pod yields, reported by Parker and Martin (1952), could be lack of rhizobial inoculum for nitrogen fixation, or low soil phosphate or molybdenum levels”.

“Management of Prosopis pod production in a synchronous fashion that will be amenable to mechanical harvesting will require a multidisciplinary team of pollination biologists, soil fertility specialists, and geneticists/plant breeders” (Felker 1984).





As well as growing quickly, and in dry or poor soils where little else may grow, they also coppice very well, resprouting rapidly following harsh and repeated cutting without showing any detrimental effects on plant health. Prosopis species produce a wood which is a very high quality fuel, having a high calorific value of approximately 5000 kcal/kg (NAS 1980, FAO 1997 in Monograph). While the use of Prosopis wood is as old as the relationship between the tree and humans, its industrial use is new for developed nations. Prosopis seems to be one of those species that lends itself generously to human exploitation. Kiawe is known to be a regernerative tree capable of being cut repeatedly while continuing to regrow. “The tree also has the ability to sprout freely from the stump, making possible successive crops of wood without replanting.” (Fosberg 1966) The wood used as firewood or charcoal is actually some of the least efficient uses both interms of energy and economic value. “The income that could be obtained from the marketing of the mesquite wood are 20 times more than they would have obtained by selling it as charcoal.” (SP_26.htm) Prosopis pallida seems to find Hawaii an optimal growing environment. One 70-year-old tree measured 41” dbh and 85 feet tall while a 50 years old tree was reported to be 2’ dbh (Skoleman). The largest tree in Hawaii is found in Puakō on the Big Island. This tree may qualify as one of the largest P. pallida in the world and is known locally as “Goto’s Kiawe” named after Ichiro Goto who started honey production in Puakō. The tree is 100+ feet tall and the trunk is large enough to require several people to hold hands around it. The tree is thornless or nearly so and is a definite candidate for clonal propagation.


“In developing countries where fuelwood is an important commodity that is harvested by hand, crop trees at the designated spacing can be marked to be saved and then all other material harvested for fuelwood.  Given the contrasting values for different size classes of Prosopis, i.e., about $40/ton for fuelwood (US $2/million BTU), $400/ton for barbecue wood, and $1,200/ton for dimensional lumber (at $850/cubic meter and 700 kg/cubic meter), it is important to maximize the total revenue from stands of Prosopis. Additional benefits in terms of enhanced forage production and quality from N fixation and soil improvement also need to be maximized”. (Felker and Patch 2005)


All good composters know that nitrogen is needed to break down the carbon. Phosphorous found in woody tissues stimulates nitrogen fixation, therefore, chipping the pruned kiawe branches and feeding the chips back to the tree will feed the tree, stimulate growth, and help break down the chips so they will be recycled back into the soil system. These chips will also help to stop the sprouting of new seeds and provide a clean bed for pods to fall onto. The archeological site at Hokolea was a fine example of sustainable and sensitive land clearing. Large branches were used for fence posts and the rest got chipped for mulching. The archeologists were very respectful because they made use of the byproduct from the tree so nothing was wasted. Polyethylene plastic and kiawe mulch was combined in layer and found to be a good cushion for mules to ride on (Paris 2006). 


**No fountain grass! Actively thinned north of Kawaihai (good forage) before last bend before kohala – Heartwell Carter = Parker Ranch.



          Incredible Art is being produced from kiawe wood. Ukuleles, kitchen utensils (ie. bowls, spoons, knives, forks, cutting boards, etc.), wood flooring, fine furniture, and large effigies are produced throughout Hawaii using kiawe. Greg Pontius of Kapaua carves Kiawe and says: “kiawe is my favorite wood. It is so dense and brittle. It stands up and sheers off. I use power tools to work it. Koa is not real hard. Kiawe is brittle and sheers off well; doesn’t mash or burn. Ohia or Lychee is terrible. I like to use oil finishes because they penetrate the wood and polymerizes which makes a good permanent finish while the coating is in the wood so you are actually touching the wood. This gives it a good feel. So people want to touch the wood. Kiawe polishes like glass! Almost feels like stone; so substantial!”


Greg Pontius came to the Big Island after finishing Art School when he was 32. He’s been carving now for 30 years. He got his start carving kiawe wood when he cut some Kiawe and formed it into nuts to hold his bandsaw together. He then got to work making simple Bandsaw boxes. The lids fit tight for years! Limb fresh cut placed together with another piece – in 20 yrs it didn’t shrink or crack. Was alive 2 hrs before glued together - 1/8th inch 14 tooth/inch band saw blade – 12” opening – best for kiawe (metal cutting blade) Kiawe sheers off – break - dislike working with koa – fibrous, mushy, can burn. “It’s like working with metal. I could cut it thin and it does not break” (Pontius 2006) Of all the wood Greg carves, kiawe is his favorite. “Feel this turtle”. He points to a turtle he carved of Koa perched upon a stand made of Ili Ahi Sandalwood. “Now feel this one”, He says. “Kiawe feels very cool like stone. When I create a piece and place it out for the public, I watch to see if, as people approach it, they reach out and touch it. When they do, I know I’ve done a good job. I like to use oil finishes that penetrate the fibers so you actually touch the wood”. Watco oil finish, Danish oil and natural “wipe on” oils are his favorites. “Light is bent in interesting ways in kiawe wood”. He holds up a piece, which resembles a Tiger’s eye gemstone. Kiawe flooring is ultimate! Termites only center of heartwood rotted out. Parts the cowboys leave behind is best (100-150 yr old fence post J) The association between the Ili Ahi sandalwood and kiawe manifests in the art of Greg Pontius.


Breeching Humpback Whale on Ili Ahi base

Simple piece with “Tiger’s Eye” light refraction

Abstract form with remnant rouch cut in back

Wild Pig Scapula

Humpback Whale with Calf on Ili Ahi base

Turtle on Ili Ahi base



Reno (Kelino Akiwai) Bruce ~ Spiritsculptor.com

Wai'anuenue, God of the water rainbows


Rainbows are the passageways from the underworld, the Earth, & to the heavens "Awakening" is the gift of his blessing, keeper of the first heaven. Over 9' tall, weight approximate 2 tons, carved of Kiawe.

Wai'anuenue, God of the water rainbows


Keeper of the first of the "Seven Heavens," the rainbows to be the passageways of the Underworld, the Earth, & the Heavens. "Awakening" is the gift this diety holds, or may grant to those commiting to thier own path of spirituality, that of the "Light."

Man & Woman, one Spirit


Totem Carved of kiawe wood, at her knee are the spirit's of the wave- the bottom of the jaw represents the wave that brings to shore, the top that which cleans the shore. The top of her head, the Creator's hand with the serpent as the forehand, wrist, & palm. It should be noted that the soft or sap wood has always been referred to as the "Hina"-feminine, the heart wood, as the "Ku"-male, so each piece of wood, each human has the energy of male-female, yet is one Spirit. The small orb by the hand of the Creator represents the wind, the source of our first breath, the receiver of our last breath. Pele, the fire Goddess dominates the back of this piece, "Ike-Ahi," the spirit of the smallest or inner part of each flame, awaits at her side.

A "Spiritual Healer & Guide"


...only arrogance prevents us from this "path"... Carved of kiawe-wood, this Ki'i doesn't require a specific title name as the image is both available in the female and male form. The symbolism here is simple yet effective, Hina- Goddess of the moon, ruler of the tides of life, (the blood flow of the female of all species, the tides of the waters, both salted and fresh waters, and the rhythmic patterns, provides "Guidance" in the ear on the spiritual side of this deity. The staff held in the left hand is that of the cobra, the serpent in any form represents that of the messenger. The feathers are to represent the effort of connection to the Heavens of flesh. This piece is currently on display in the lobby of the "King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel" on the Big Island of Hawaii.


Art produced from kiawe may represent the highest transformation of a value added product from raw wood rotting on the ground to a priceless work of art.


Posts – (Dawsett 2006) “If they planted something it had a use.”

          - Rick Gordon - “Working Kiawe is Blood Money”

- “Powder post beetle” – sapwood, sweet, yellow, don’t like the red hard wood.


Kiawe and cattle are synonomous. Cattle are fattened on kiawe pods and fence posts for containing the cattle are made from the branches. Production of kiawe posts is an important skill that needs to be remembered. Former Parker Ranch manager James Dawsett used to be a kiawe post harvester. Still today he has many posts he has procured from Hawaiian forests and honors their importance to cattle production. For much of the time he was harvesting kiawe posts in Puakō, there were no roads and all of the work was done by hand. He had much to offer about kiawe post harvesting and managing kiawe forests for fencepost production.


“When the trees grow in the lowland near water they grow straight; looking for the sunshine. When they get older and get the sun they will branch. Deeper the soil and water is, the bigger they get. We didn’t work in summer time. In the winter we would work until 9-10 am and then go fishing, have lunch, or go to sleep. We worked 4 months during the cool time each season cutting kiawe posts big time for Parker Ranch during the 1940-50’s. Early in the morning before the heat we would fell a tree. All the branches make good posts. Deep rooted, huge trees. Long branches are good for building. Average posts are 9’ long. Corner post are 9’ X 24”. We used traditional felling techniques. Did it with out chainsaws. Instead we used double saw or single bit axe. Two guys on a long saw. Aim the tree, use wedges, place kiawe trunk on the ground and drop it on top. It is important to be careful not to fell them and land them against the next tree. Come back at 3pm and cut or stack. Stack what you can like stacking hay then they dry out. The huge ones can’t be picked up – use an O’O’ and roll it. 6 or 4 wheelers with winches and then pick ‘em up with a sling and boom. Drag the logs into shallow salt water and let ‘em soak in the water and cure. Stored them in Waimea and Kawaiha. 50 years old are still good. Certain kinds of chainsaw chains are good for kiawe when sharpened at a certain angle. Heavy-duty logger chains with a sharp chisel rather than deep for soft woods known as a “Chip chain” works best” (Dawsett 2006).


The worst thing one can do is cut close to ground because there is a tendency to hit rocks. When this occurs, often the chain is ruined. If the chain is kept sharp it works well. Break up rotting small wood while walking around to get firewood and posts. Best to find stands with aged wood with mushrooms growing on it because they have rotted away the wood. Allow the powder beetles to eat the sapwood away and leave the hard inner red wood, which does not rot easily. Be safe! Timing makes the process easy. Large logs need be milled on the spot – not moved. Handle the wood as few times as possible in order to maximize profits. Increased handling = decreased profits! Transport of wood is an expensive service. May need to produce fuel on-site in order to power the transport vehicles. Is wood toxic? Fire extinguisher and a water truck need to be on site during work for safety. Chippers are dangerous because they can throw sparks. Need hardhat, eye and ear protection, good gloves, tough clothes, and good boots. Chaps, gloves, long sleeves, appropriate durable clothing, insurance policy, scorpions, Puakō resident association, etc.


Making Fences:

“Stone walls were first source of fencing for Parker Ranch. Native trees (Kauila) were good posts – high elevation burned in a fire. After the fires they use kiawe posts and the other side they use Ohia. Every 10’ drop a post to make a fence line. Some of them sprout if the post is planted when still green. Corner posts are big. Second post for brace is the next size. Line post is smallest. If we manage the forest for kiawe posts – there is a lot of money in it. 9’ = $40 and 7’ = $14 for post now. Eacaluptus trees – red and blue gum – excellent posts but only last 20 years at best if they have a hard center wood. Kiawe last a lifetime or more. Green kiawe posts don’t last as long. Dark dry trees never rot after the bark is off – cant drive a staple into it while it is dry – 6-or-7 guage wire is used for a short staple – 1”1/4 for kiawe wood. Hit ‘em and close ‘em a little. Do it right the first time and make it so it won’t brake and mintain it. There’s a trick to it but you can figure it out…” (Dawsett 2006).


“While we have not worked in management of coppice regrowth, we have observed exciting management techniques for coppice regrowth by farmers in Haiti. If Prosopis is severed at ground level, depending on the stem diameter, dozens of coppice shoots will emerge. Due to an extensive pre-existing root system, these shoots usually grow much faster than seedling growth. In addition, as there are fewer stress events per unit time, i.e., wind, browse, and trampling, the coppice shoots tend to be much straighter than the original seedling shoots. When the number of coppiced shoots is thinned to a single shoot per stump, rapid and straight growth is observed that would be beneficial for poles or lumber. Casual observations of managed coppice shoot production in Haiti suggests that 5 cm to 7 cm diameter poles about 2.5 m in length could be obtained from coppice shoot growth in 2 to 3 years” (Felker and Patch 2005).




Prosopis lumber compares favorably in color, hardness and shrinkage values to the world’s finest timbers that also belong to the legume family” (Alban 2002). Large cut, dried, and plane mesquite wood sells for luxury prices of $4-5 per board foot. On the Island of Hawaii it retails for as much as $12 per b.f. Kiawe comes in different forms. In Hawaii, Kiawe can be a tree with an erect, flat topped or decumbent form or as a shrub it can display a coppiced, multi-stemmed or prostrate forms. The trunk is deeply furrowed, twisting as it grows displaying a kind of spiraling form that is quite functional for stabilizing the tree in the often harsh, windy, arid environments that it finds itself. The deep furrows are a direct result of windshake. Wild bees often make their home in the deep furrows of kiawe trunks. These deep furrows make milling kiawe different than other woods without furrow. Kiawe has made its way to India where it is being used for lumber.


“It appears that P. pallida has the best tree form among the introduced Prosopis species in India. In a decade-old plantation at Jodhpur, some individuals have attained a height of 10 m (~33 feet). The collar diameter is on average 20 cm (~8 inches). The species is a prolific pod/seed bearer. The plant is reported to assume a height of 8-20 m with a trunk of 60 cm in diameter in favorable and protected sites. The majority of accessions introduced in India are not armed with spines and, therefore, are often referred to as thornless exotic vilayati babool.” (Tewari et al.)


The gnarled, irregular shape of the trunks makes cutting the trees into lumber in the traditional sense a feat of skill. The Prosopis sawyer must be quite creative and accepting of the irregular, short boards and cants produced by Prosopis. The irregular shape makes cutting Prosopis into lumber difficult but not impossible. Kiawe works quite well for veneer and wood floors due to the often-small size of the sawn timber. “A survey of kitchen cabinet manufactures in the USA found that 90% of the pieces of wood used are less than 10 cm wide and less than 1.6 m long. Thus, even the smallest Prosopis logs (1 m long by 20 cm diameter) can yield marketable timber in the form of hardwood blanks. These should be squared on all sides and could be planed as required.


“While the wood technical quality of Prosopis for fine furniture is on par with the world’s best and most exotic timbers, i.e. rosewood, mahogany, cherry and walnut, the vast majority of the biomass in Prosopis exists in short small diameter pieces. Given the fact that these pieces for potential application in sawn lumber, flooring and furniture parts ($850 per cubic meter = $1000/ton) is nearly ten times the value of firewood, charcoal and chips, it is important to maximise sawn wood production from Prosopis. Machinery has been developed and adapted for processing short and crooked Prosopis logs into sawn boards. Sawmills of various types have been used successfully, including large and medium-sized circular saws, band saws and chainsaw mills, and each has specific advantages in different situations” (Pasiecznik et al. 2001).


Koa is Hawaii’s most esteemed wood. Koa is well known for its hardness and the way it takes a beautiful finish. Koa grows in the higher wetter elevations of Hawaii. Kiawe on the other hand, grows down along the coast where Koa doesn’t grow for a variety of reasons. Kiawe is also known to be a fine hard wood and very rare. Kiawe wood has been found to be harder than its North American Cousin. It is both denser and more dimensionally stable than Koa, and polishes like glass. On the Big Island of Hawaii, Kiawe is listed as rare and sells for the exorbitant price of $6-12/bf. One local product from kiawe wood (besides firewood) is knecks for ukuleles. The hard kiawe wood gives good resonance to the instrument. Why is there not more of an industry created around Kiawe products in the state?  Efforts have been made elsewhere to clone Prosopis trees with straight trunks in an effort to produce a more regular product that meets currently accepted lumber standards.


The keys to producing high quality Prosopis trees for lumber are: 1) planned plantings of select premium quality trees created via grafted cuttings, living fence posts or air layers and/or 2) wild stands are pruned and sculpted so that over time trees that were once multi-stemmed or full of branches posses one straight trunk. The selected trunk is manicured by removal of all sprouts and side branches and the energy of the tree is focused through it into the canopy so the tree grows large and as straight as possible while producing prolific fruits. With wild stands it seems to be an issue of selection through management. In India, P. pallida is preferred. When the “exotic thornless vilayati babool” are found, the rest of the trees around it are cut away in order to confer advantage to that highly desired tree. A similar approach may be useful in Hawaii. Wild stands like those found at Puakō can be sculpted and shaped into a highly productive timber stand via selective pruning. This type of management makes a lot of sense and will be the natural outcome of a fire mitigation program for the forest. If Kiawe is to be purposefully planted in Hawaii it must be of only these very select strains. The resort and landscape industries have already caught on to this and plant (or leave them during development) these types of Kiawe whenever possible. Some unscrupulous planters even go into local forests and dig up the good strains and transplant them onto private land, often fetching many thousands of dollars for each tree. A profitable nursery could be established in Puakō for the purpose of propagating select Kiawe trees found on site via grafted cuttings, living fence post clones and air layers to provide material for the aforementioned industries. Through a selective propagation process it may be possible to produce trees in mass that have tall straight trunks, with abundant sweet pods and no thorns. These trees would provide shade and edible pods and be cut for lumber once they reach maturity.


“When high-value lumber is a management objective, it is important to obtain long straight trunks. In the latter situation pruning of limbs and prevention of stem resprouts is most important. El Fadl (pers. comm. 1995) found that when P. juliflora in the Sudan was pruned it did not resprout along the stems. This is in marked contrast to extensive stem resprouting from Prosopis in Texas” (Felker and Patch, 2005). “Sawn lumber was maximized (23 cubic meters/ha) at densities of about 111 stems/ha (9.5 m spacings). At retail prices of US $425/cubic meter, the nonselect lumber from a stand of 111 trees/ha would have a value of US $9775/ha”. (Felker and Patch 2005) [This means that the lumber created during a fire mitigation program in the 300 most productive acres in Puakō could be worth as much as $1,214,575 or ~ $4,000/acre]


“Thinning studies on weedy natural stands of Prosopis in the USA have shown the beneficial effects on growth and overall wood yield, but these have yet to be applied to tropical species. Concurrent work on cultural interventions could also be usefully applied to P. juliflora and P. pallida. Limited work on the effects of pruning has shown very beneficial effects on overall growth rates and on reducing water use and the competitive effects on neighbouring crops. Grafting superior material onto naturalised Prosopis is possible and is recommended as a method of converting weedy stands to productive agroforestry. While Prosopis plantations are known to increase soil fertility, improve soil structure, and decrease soil alkalinity and salinity, the effects of management interventions on these beneficial effects are not known. Further studies are required in a range of forestry and agroforestry situations and on a range of site types to confirm these results. Full economic analysis of each intervention is also essential” (Pasiecznik et al. 2001).


“The self-thinning line that predicts the spacing required for large trees also suggests that if large trees are eventually obtained, they will provide sufficient intraspecific competition to prevent dense stands of small trees from becoming established. Thus rather than rely on herbicides or mechanical eradication even including bulldozers, it appears as if the most sustainable technique for avoiding dense, weedy stands of small trees is to create large trees on wide spacings that will dominate the site. In this thinning process, it may well be necessary to use selective herbicide treatments to kill individual trees. One of the most effective treatments is a basal application of 175 ml of a trichlopyr plus picloram mixture (Grazon P+D) in 8 l of diesel that is applied 15 cm above ground level to the stump after cutting. Thus stand management techniques can be very effectively applied to Prosopis to create large, straight, single-boled trees on wide spacings that are useful for lumber, to provide thinnings for fuelwood, to enhance tree growth, and to provide intraspecific competition to prevent the encroachment of dense stands of small trees” (Tewari et al. 2000).


*The above quote begs the question: “Is this management strategy appropriate for a forest supporting organic agriculture situated in a flood plane of a large watershed that empties into a pristine coral reef?”


*Phil – By the hour or by the board foot. $60/hr – 8hr day ~200-500 bf (conservative) ($480) ~$2/bf = 500 bf * $4/bf = $2,000 (A splitter for firewood is useful)


0-2” = chipped

2” + = firewood

16” + = saw logs



Prosopis wood has exceptional dimensional stability with regard to changing moisture conditions (Tortorelli 1956; Welden 1986), and that it has similar hardness and density to oak (Quercus spp.) and other exotic tropical hardwoods. When compared with current wholesale prices for cherry (Prunus avium), walnut (Juglans spp.) and oak lumber at US$1-3 per board foot, the value of Prosopis lumber ranges from US$604-1812/dry ton, or US$423-1269/m3. Annual growth rates of 1.25-1.50 cm/yr in basal diameter which translates into a 20-30 year rotation for a 40 cm diameter saw log (Cornejo-Oviedo et al., 191a). We have estimated that these 40 cm basal diameter trees contain about 0.17 m3 of lumber worth a minimum of US$70/tree (Felker et al., 1988). There is an increasing tendency to directly produce blanks for furniture parts rather than the standard 8 feet long by 12-inch wide (2.4 x 0.3 m) boards (Araman et al., 1982). A recent survey of hardwood lumber sizes used in the U.S.A. cabinetry industry found that 90% of the actual pieces were less than 60 cm long and less than 15 cm wide (Araman et al. 1982).


“The routine unavailability of 2.4 m long Prosopis logs precluded its grading and thus marketability through official National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading channels. Thus Los Amigos del Mesquite, the organisation of producers and users of Prosopis in the U.S.A., proposed a modified set of grading rules to the NHLA that used shorter and narrower boards, which for the highest grade only needed to be 4 feet (1.2 m) long and 6 inches (0.15 m) wide and have a minimum clear cutting surface free of cracks and defects of 4 inches (0.1 m) by 24 inches (0.6 m). This grading system was presented to the NHLA at their 1993 annual convention in Dallas and was voted on by the membership. Since the NHLA Chief Inspector recommended its approval, it is hoped the general membership will ratify these grading rules. At the NHLA convention, major hardwood buyers from Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the U.S.A. were present and were all favourably impressed with Prosopis lumber. Thus it appears as if the international climate is ripe for an excellent demand to high value Prosopis lumber.

Milling Equipment

Technology in use in north-eastern U.S.A. and Canada for small diameter, short length logs needs to be examined for use in India. This technology is adapted to high volume production from 15-30 cm diameter logs that are less than 1.2 m in length. For example, a 3 man crew has been reported to saw small walnut logs at about 1.5 m3/hr with a ‘bolter saw’, and at a value of over US$400/m3 this would be very significant. Small, 2 to 3 person sawmills are commercially available for US$3,000-15,000, of the bandsaw and circular type. While the circular sawmills take more kerf than the bandsaws, the circular saws are more rugged and can take more abuse with the hard wood of Prosopis. The 2 types of sawmills that seem most adapted to high lumber production from small Prosopis logs are the bolter mill and the Scragg mill. The bolter mill typically has one 75 cm diameter blade with a 40 hp motor. The logs are placed on a sliding metal table that passes by the saw. The logs are not fastened to the table with ‘dogs’ and are merely pushed through the saw. The Scragg mill has 2 circular blades, about 75 cm in diameter on the same shaft. For small logs, the spacing between the blades is about 10 to 15 cm. In earlier models, the logs fall into a ‘V’ through which has the effect of centring them. They are then pushed between the blades by a clip on a chain. This mill cuts a slab off 2 sides of the log at one time to make a 2 sided cant 10-15 cm thick. A Scragg mill at Texas A&M was set to cut 2 logs per minute. Once a 2-sided cant is produced, it can be laid on one side on standard tables and processed rapidly with standard resaws, planers, etc. Due to the greater hardness and density of Prosopis, cutting tooth angles, horsepower requirements, feed rates and tooth composition must be optimised for Prosopis. Mr. S. Lunstrum, sawmill specialist at the Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Forest Service in Madison, Wisconsin has a computer program to optimise sawmill systems. Mr. Lunstrum has been most helpful to the Texas A&M University sawmill project. It would certainly be useful if a centre of excellence for Prosopis sawmill technology were established in India to support this industry.


*Wood Mizer saws can be trailored to sites for milling. 1-800-553-0182 or infocenter@woodmizer.com







Log Capacity


Wood Mizer



15 HP gas engine

Cut up to 125* board feet an hour

28” dia X 11’


Wood Mizer



18 HP gas engine

Cut up to 200* board feet an hour

32” dia X 21’


Wood Mizer



28 HP gas engine

Cut up to 300* board feet an hour

36” dia X 21’






Woody Biomass

“Since Prosopis requires a great deal of pruning to obtain straight poles suitable for lumber, there is a great opportunity for the use of prunings for fuelwood, to be obtained while producing clear boles for high value lumber in long rotations. The lowest monetary value is that of the direct energy value of Prosopis wood. Since there are 17 million BTU per dry ton of Prosopis wood, the value of a ton of wood at US$1/million BTU (1 million BTU = 1000 cubic feet of natural gas) is only $17/ton” (Tewari et al. 1993).



The wood of some Prosopis species, particularly P. glandulosa in the USA, is known to impart a pleasant taste to food cooked over it, and it is exploited as a barbecue wood and for smoking fish and meat. The pleasant taste is a result of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in the smoke (Maga 1986). However, the wood of P. juliflora and P. pallida is not known to impart an especially pleasant taste or smell and has not been marketed as such. It is sold widely as firewood and as charcoal but purely for practical uses. (Pasiecznik et al.)


Kiawe (Prosopis pallida) wood does not contain the same aromatic hydrocarbon responsible for Mesquite’s (P. glandulosa) signiture fragrance (Pasiecznik et al.). Yet, local Chef’s still relish it. Even charcoal made of true Mesquite from the Southwest, USA, does not actually impart the aromatic hydrocarbon to food. “Even though charcoal gives off little of the mesquite wood scent, the whole pitch is lucrative as hell” (Nabhan 1987). Abe Remi and Tom Prichard made charcoal and kiawe firewood in Puakō at one time. Charcoal making can be dangerous business. Tom died in a tragic accident while making charcoal in the Puakō forest. He apparently used a gas-based propellant to start the fire on one occasion. While standing over the little hole in the top of the charcoal maker he stuffed a flaming rag into the hole and it ignited immediately. The explosion forced through the stack with great force impacting Tom in the stomach. He sustained severe damage to his intestines and was knocked 30 feet back onto the ground. He died shortly there after (Gordon 2006). On Molokai’I there is a large industrial scale kiawe charcoal making operation that is supposed to be a bit safer.

            The charcoal making process tends to loose at least 50% of wood’s energy value. Approximately 3-6 kg of wood of P. juliflora or P. pallida is required to produce 1 kg of charcoal depending on the method used. Mesquite loses half its energy value when converted to charcoal (Nabhan 1987) Wood is a most efficient energy accumulator with high BTU properties perfect for wood gasification boilers, rocket stove technology or other natural energy systems that can most efficiently capture the energy stored within woody tissues. Amongst Prosopi; Prosopis pallida is second in calorific value only to Prosopis tamarugo” (Pasiecznik et al.). Kiawe is an excellent source for bio-energy in Hawaii because it grows on the leeward coast where much of the energy is consumed and many other crops don’t grow. It is nitrogen fixing and does not need to be fertilized, and grows quickly with or without irrigation. In India Prosopis has been used in wood gasification boilers to produce electricity (Tewari et al. 2000). The wood has been used there and the Southwest USA successfully to pump water. “Because the wood is low in sulphur it is an excellent candidate for energy production using gasification technology or other clean means of combustion. Rao and Vasanthi 1986, found that biomass generates 2.5 m3 of gas, which can supply 3000 Kcal of thermal energy. BioMax systems produced by Community Power Corporation in Colorado, USA produce roughly 1 kW of electricity and approximately 6,000 btu of heat, for each 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of wood. They sampled both kiawe and Guava wood chips from the Big Island and declared them both “excellent feed stocks for BioMax systems” (Walt 2006). The fuelwood requirement to generate 150 MW of power is estimated to be 0.6-0.7 million t/yr of dry wood. Vehicles have been developed that run on wood.


“In a study of biomass production of other Prosopis spp. in southern California, several species, mostly from South America, were grown for 3 years at 1.2 in (4 ft) spacing and three levels of irrigation. These trees produced an annual average of 8.5 t/ha (3.8 tons/acre) of fresh biomass. Another study in Texas determined that Prosopis natural stands yielded 19.3 t/ha (8.6 tons/acre) on deep upland soils and 36.1 t/ha (16.1 tons/acre) on deep bottomland. At Waianae, Oahu, an area with 510 mm (20 in) annual rainfall, a tract of kiawe trees of unknown age yielded 226.8 m³ per ha (3,240 ft³/acre or 36 cords/acre). On Maui, a 2.4-ha (6-acre) area with 380 mm (15 in) rainfall yielded 365.4 m³ per ha (5,220 ft³/acre or 58 cords/acre). Tentative biomass production in 10 years was 260 t/ha from P. juliflora(Skoleman 2005).


It is possible to design bio-energy producing filtration systems for human effluent out of Kiawe. The effluent passes through Kiawe groves and the trees filter out excess nutrients and transform them into wood, honey and pods for fuel. The honey produced from this system can also be fermented for energy. The water that normally just flows into the ocean without being further filtered, now passes through a system that cleans it while producing stored energy. Ideally, the system would be nearly completely automated for maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness. Depending on how the system is set up, it could provide straight trunks for lumber or wood for energy as well as pods and cleaner water. Studies have demonstrated that the Hawaiian species fixed nitrogen and grew at salinities equivalent to seawater (Bryant 1982).  Any local knows this to be true because the trees are found thriving along the leeward coast. Anchioline pond territory seems to be the ideal location for Kiawe (Paris 2006). Below will be discussed how a human effluent system can be coupled with an aquaculture system and a kiawe forest to produce an enormous amount of food while performing valuable environmental services.


“After plantation establishment, it is still necessary to cultivate several times per year for weed control. When the trees are less than 1-m tall, a single-row sweep cultivator can easily pass over the trees and a disk harrow can be used in the rows. When good site preparation is used the season before transplant, deep plowing is done before planting, and good weed control is used during canopy closure, we obtained 98% seedling survival and a high dry-biomass productivity of 20 metric tons/ha without irrigation” (Felker et al., 1989). (Felker and Patch, 2005)



The wood does not spit, spark or emit much smoke, burns slowly with a hot and even heat, and is referred to as ‘wooden anthracite’ by some sources (NAS 1980). The wood contains aromatic hydrocarbons, and the smoke from some species is said to impart a pleasant flavour to food cooked over it (Maga 1986). Although the wood burns better when dry, a great advantage over some other species is an ability to burn well when freshly cut or ‘green’, although heat output is reduced as heat is needed to evaporate the moisture. Drying is thus not essential, reducing losses from theft or natural decay (Piseiznick et al.). Firewood = $700+ per cord – delivered or $250 per half cord – “u-pick-up”. “The fuel is equal, cord to cord, to hickory or white oak. Kiawe sold for $14 / cord in Honolulu at one time” (Fosberg 1966). 1/10th of a cord = .4 cubic meters (Nabhan 1987) 50,000 cords = 170,000 cubic meters (Nabhan 1987) Currently, one cord of kiawe firewood in Waimea, Island of Hawaii sells for about $3-400 a half cord. Thus one acre of kiawe cut into firewood and sold in Waimea is worth ~$9,150/acre. While this seems like a lot of money, lumber is actually worth much more. Firewood should only be made of wood not suitable for lumber. Unfortunately, most firewood cutters do not understand the true value of kiawe wood and do not have the skill or equipment to mill kiawe wood into lumber. This is partly due to lack of education, lack of concern for kiawe because it is considered a “trash tree”, and the lack of an official kiawe industry in Hawaii. Generally, kiawe is an industry for botanical renegades and rogue botanophiles willing to work hard for quick cash.

When cutting firewood, downed wood and standing dead wood are selected first. It is usefull to enter a site initially with and ax, machete, thick boots, flexibility and strength (shinguards, knee and elbow pads help too). Break down anything that crumbles by ax or machete and crush it while stomping around and chopping. Everything that is substantial enough for firewood will remain. Begin cutting anything in the air and work your way down. Once you get to anything close to the ground observe if it is near rocks and if it can be moved. Raise pieces on top of other pieces to protect the chainsaw chain from the ground. Move pieces to be cut on top of a large wooden piece or an area with lots of woody debris to buffer your chain from the ground when finishing each cut. Keeping the chain sharp is key. A carbide chain works great and some people believe that cutting the guides off helps make a regular chain cut better. As one is cutting firewood they are looking for any pieces suitable for posts, art pieces, or lumber. Sorting happens as the sawyer moves through the forest. Fresh branches are often cut in order to make navigating the forest to cut, easier. These should be bucked up and or chipped. All small pieces remaining on the ground should be chipped directly into a truck for transport unless the site being worked calls for a different prescription.

Safety is Key during this entire process and the sawyer is advised to take his time. Thick Logging boots (“Redwings”) made of leather and deep bottom rubber soles to protect from kiawe thorns are essential. Steel toes are usefull for breaking wood apart. It is important when dropping the trees to create an ascape rout clear of clutter. Long leg pants made of durable material. Chaps, gloves, safety goggles, hardhat, face guard, long sleeve shirt. Extra spark plugs, extra chain, tools, brush, fire extinguisher, water.


*Premium grade firewood comes from dead, standing, weathered wood that has no bark and is silver-gray color. When this wood is cut and split it is so dry inside it crackles.


Crush small wood with heavy boots, axes and machetes so can navigate.

Cut wood that is suspended start at top and work down, be careful when close to the ground, lift logs up and cut with waste wood below to protect chain, carbide chain works great!

Small wood, sapwood, wood not good for lumber is good firewood. Prune trees as go so can navigate the forest easily without branches getting in the way.

Split rounds with an ax or splitter and then load.

2 people can do a load in 5 hours round trip. $100/hr + labor ($20/hr) = $600/cord delivered! Rick Gordon gets $250 for half cord –. u-pick-up = $500. Cyrus gets $350 for half a cord!

Gas costs $50 for ~2-3 loads delivered

2 gallons of gas is ~$6 and lasts long enough to cut ~3 cords of wood.

Maintenance on truck, saws, etc. = ? Auto Insurance, tune-up/oil change, brakes, chains, repair, rentals, ?


Firewood Dimensions

.4 m3 = 1/10th of a cord


1.21’ X 2.42’ X 1.21’ = 3.5m3 or ~4m3


4’ X 8’ X 4’ = 128 cubic ft.


*The splitter uses ~ gallon of unleaded gas each day.

*The chainsaw uses ~ 1 gallon of Bar oil per 2 gallons of unleaded gas and one 2 cycle oil mix.

*2 cords per day is normal. It may be most efficient for one person to cut two days per week and split 2 days per week alone – save $.


2’ X 2’ X 2’ = 8 cubic’ = 6.25% of one cord = $31.25

Produce bundles of this size and sell them for $35 each = 16 per cord = $560 per cord as bundles.


6 hours (@ $20/hr) to produce one cord = ~$120

Splitter per cord = ½ gallon gas = $1.75

Chainsaw = ¼ gallon gas = $.88

Splitter = $130 for 2 days rental = $65/day = $32.50 per cord

½ hour drive time = $10

Total cost per cord = $165.13 = 3X’s mark-up = ~$500


Hawaiian literature citations average 30.5 cords/acre = $21,350-$12,200 / acre (rough estimate) - no knowledge of if any trees would be left or if everything would be taken. (reference seems to indicate the site was bulldozed)


Ford F250 =~ 5’X8’X2’ = ~120 cubic feet – 1.5 cubic feet = 118.5 cubic feet / 128 cubic ft per cord = ~93% of one cord per load even with sidewalls. = ~ 4 cubic yards.


Cyrus sells a generous ½ cord for $350 = $700 for one cord

Rick Gordon sells ½ cord for ~$250 (not delivered) = ~$500 cord (not delivered)

Delivery fee = $100/ half cord = $700/cord

$650 = 1 truckload stacked 4” above the bed sidewalls – delivered.


US$423-1269/m3 for lumber = $1,700- $5,000 for an equal volume as one cord or 2-7 X’s the value of firewood on a per volume basis.


Rocket Stoves


“Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon is dedicated to Advanced Studies in Appropriate Technology (ASAT). Headed by Dr. Larry Winiarski, mechanical engineer, and Dean Still M.A., the ASAT laboratory and staff is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the poor and impoverished through the development and dissemination of fuel efficient, low emission, cooking and heating technologies. In the mid-1980s an Aprovecho team, working under Dr.Winiarski, invented the Rocket Stove design. This was an easy to build chimney-less stove that produced almost no smoke because it achieved near complete combustion. This stove has proven to be effective in African refugee camps and in university laboratories. Since the creation of the rocket stove, Aprovecho researchers have made a number of important discoveries. They've found that complete combustion is only part of the equation and heat transfer and heat capture are just as important for fuel-efficient cooking. They have tried to apply these scientific principles to stove designs that are smoke free, fuel-efficient and accepted by people who cook. One of the latest designs, the Estufa Justa, is an example of a Rocket stove design using a chimney. Working in concert with the people of Honduras, Aprovecho stove technicians have created a stove that uses considerably less wood than either an open fire or a Lorena while still meeting the goal of removing smoke from the kitchen. Since 1997 more than 100,000 rocket stoves have been built in Central America” (Aprovecho Website).


These stoves have appropriate applications in Hawaii particularly with regards to using kiawe and guava for heat and cooking. For more information please go to the Aprovecho website: http://www.aprovecho.net/ The bean harvest in Hawaii is complete just around the onset of the rainy season, therefore it is necessary to dry the fruit actively using a dryer to overcome the loss of direct solar radiation from cloud cover that would otherwise allow for the use of passive solar dehydrators. A wood fired dehydrator has been designed and implemented by the Aprovecho research center.


The Winiarski Build-Your-Own Wood-Fired Food Dehydrator

By Dean Still, Lori Sievers, and Mona Cancino

Farmers in developing countries require the most fuel-efficient technology to dry their produce. To this end, an international team developed a wood-fired dehydrator to dry cacao in the mountains of Nicaragua. Due to the success of the prototype, local farmers have built three more. This technology is also valuable to homesteaders, gardeners, and farmers in industrialized countries.

A dilemma for farmers in many parts of the world is that their need for drying produce coincides with the start of the rainy season. This is the case as much in Oregon as in the mountains of Nicaragua. Therefore, the Aprovecho team appreciated the fact that a wood-fired dryer does not need the sun to preserve food. Wood, a renewable resource, can come from slash piles or fallen branches of trees.

The dryer yields approximately one pound of dried apples or tomatoes per pound of fuel consumed and can dry up to 250 pounds of fruit at a time. Optimal drying temperatures are between 120 and 130 degrees F. The dryer burns about 10 pounds of wood per hour and will stay around 130 degrees F while burning the equivalent of three 1”x 4” pieces of wood.

The design of the dryer is simple. The user distributes sliced produce on 18 screen trays and places them inside a sheet metal box. A combustion chamber — made from fire resistant bricks, like those used to build kilns — heats the box. This combustion chamber, in turn, is contained at one end of a 4’x10’ brick box covered by a 1/4” steel plate. The box is then filled with insulation, such as pumice rock, vermiculite, Perlite, or even wood ash. A chimney with a 12” diameter is attached to the back of the brick box, at the opposite end from the combustion chamber. This chimney pulls hot gases through a one-inch gap between the insulation and the underside of the steel plate. This small gap efficiently forces heat against the steel plate, warming it almost immediately.

The box containing the food to be dried sits above the steel plate, separated by another one-inch gap in which air is heated to 130 degrees F. The draft from a second, larger chimney (3’x 3’x 15’) pulls this hot air into the box through a four-inch opening running length-wise along the bottom of the box. The hot air evaporates the moisture from the food, and is then drawn out of the box by the chimney at approximately 6 - 8 mph. The release of hot air from the small chimney increases draft in the larger chimney, which surrounds it. The taller this large chimney is, the greater the speed of the airflow through the box, and more efficient the drying process. Therefore, the chimney does the work of a big electric fan for free. The chimneys on the dryers in Nicaragua are 20-feet tall!


Full report including diagrams, test results and more, please send a check or money order for $5 to Aprovecho Research Center 80574 Hazelton Rd. Cottage Grove, OR 97424.




Community Power Corporation

Energy Systems for Sustainable Power

8420 S Continental Divide Rd

Littleton, CO 80127 USA

Tel: (303) 933-3135

Fax: (303) 933-1497

Email: rwalt@gocpc.com (Robb Walt, President)

Web: www.gocpc.com


BioMax: A Line of Modular Biopower Systems for Distributed Generation, Combined Heat & Power & Cooling


CPC’s BioMax small modular fully automated biopower systems offer new options for using a variety of biomass residues - wood chips, wood pellets, nut shells, pits, pelletized ag products (switchgrass, orange skins, etc.) – to provide power and heat for rural enterprises, schools, homes, and small communities.


CPC’s BioMax systems require less than 30 minutes per day of attendant labor, excluding time to prepare the woody biomass feedstock. The attendant turns the key to start the engine on propane and can then walk away as the computer-based control system starts the gasifier, activates the screw feeder, automatically transitions from the start-up fuel (generally propane) to a clean producer gas made from woodchips or other types of biomass residues, and continues to operate and monitor the system until automatic shutdown. The feeder/gasifier system is driven by the load demands of the engine/generator. Gridconnected BioMax systems do not require propane for startup. BioMax systems can be configured for combined heat and power (CHP) applications, fuel-gas only, or shaft power.


The BioMax system is a “green” alternative to conventional fossil fuel generators and frees the user from dependence on high cost fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, diesel fuel, etc. BioMax users that have on-site woody residues can avoid the high cost of waste disposal and environmental problems by using these wastes for generating power and heat.


The only byproduct of the BioMax system is fine ash, certified as nonhazardous. BioMax systems produce no smoke, no smell, no effluents and they meet current CARB Air Quality standards. A BioMax system equipped with the optional CHP module can deliver nearly twice the thermal energy as electricity, providing heat for buildings and industrial processes. No other renewable energy systems can do this.


All of CPC’s BioMax systems are fully automated and can be operated remotely over the Internet. The industrial PLC constantly controls and monitors over 60 parameters. Three levels of alarms are provided, including fully automated emergency shutdown. On-going research and development at Community Power Corporation’s product development facility in Denver, Colorado will continue to achieve upgrades, performance enhancements and cost reductions.


BioMax Features

* Units from 5 kWe, 25 kWe, 50kWe, 75kWe and 100kWe providing utility-grade electricity

* CHP operation for delivery of heat and power with overall system efficiency greater than 80%

* Environmentally friendly - no water scrubbers, liquid effluents, toxic wastes, smoke, or smell

* Simple maintenance - estimate average of 30 minutes per day + time for feedstock loading

* BioMax systems are designed for 24 hour per day operation

* Fully automatic operation over Internet with remote control of all components including gasifier, gas conditioning, and genset

* Dispatchable power within 30 seconds of auto-startup - with propane startup option

* Fuel flexible: wood chips, wood pellets, nutshells, pelletized ag residues and switchgrass, etc.

* Optional automatic dryer/sorter/feeder for wood chips

* Modular, transportable, simple installation (Containerized versions available.)


Characteristics of an Ideal BioMax Application

* The site has a need for power and heat – where the heat is from natural gas or propane

* The site has a supply of suitable biomass residues such as wood chips, wood scraps, prunings, nutshells, pits, that are costly to dispose of. A BioMax consumes 2lbs of wood chips

   to generate 1kWh (electricity) and 2kWht (~6,000 Btu/hour of heat). A BioMax 25 running at full power will consume 50lbs of feedstock per hour.

* The site has power and heat requirements in a range suitable for a BioMax system (5 to 100 kWe and 100,000 to 1 million Btu/hour)

* The site values “clean & green” power and energy-independence

* There is enough available labor to cover (without extra cost) the daily operation and maintenance of the BioMax (~ 30 minutes per day + feedstock loading)

* Ideally, the local utility allows “net metering”


**Other gasification boiler systems exist but these only produce heat for warming a home or domestic hot water. (See www.newhorizon.com) BioMax systems would allow for a diversity of equipment to be run that are necessary for the maintenance of the forest and devlopment of value added products. Electricity on the Big Island is the most expensive anywhere at ~$.30 per kWh.


Mechanized harvesting is the key to really making Prosopis biomass for energy production a long-term economically viable activity. Felker, et al., 1999 performed a case study on a 216 kW biomass harvester in Texas. “The harvester was most efficient at harvesting dense stands of small trees that were less than 10-cm in basal diameter.” When harvesting trees at 10 cm or less basal diameter it harvested at a rate of .95 ha/hr with a fresh weight harvest production of 7,050 kg/h. The operating costs were approximately $70/hr and the estimated energy cost was $1/kJ, which compares favorably with other low-sulfur energy sources like coal, natural gas and fuel oil. These authors noted that “In south Texas, dense regrowth containing 5 to 10 dry Mg /ha can occur with out any management in 15 yrs. Giving an average annual yield of .3-.7 dry Mg/ha/yr. This renewable resource should be available indefinitely.” Since the major economic constraint lies in the harvesting and transport costs the forest would ideally be located in close proximity to the end user and the harvesting would be mechanized. It is known that mechanized forestry equipment can harvest 300-38 cm diameter tree per hour with chipping costs for such trees being approximately $3.85 per green Mg ($7.70 per dry Mg=$.45 10(-15) kJ) (Felker et al. 1999) These stats come from temperate sites and it is expected that tropical sites would have greater productivity per unit time.


Ethyl Alcohol

Not only is the wood suitable for biofuel production, the pods are equally as useful. Fruits from the North American species tend to be lower in soluble sugars and higher in dietary fiber. P. alba from Argentina tends to have the lowest fiber and highest soluble sugar content and P. pallida resides somewhere in between the two. Kiawe is one of the sweetest of all Prosopis spp., second only to P. alba from Argentina (Felker et al. 2006). A fermented beverage has been produced from Prosopis fruits in South America called “Aloja”. All total, Kiawe fruits contain 80+% fermentable sugars. 40% + of the fermentable sugar in Kiawe pods is sucrose; the rest needs to be enzymatically reduced to become available to fermentation (Duke 2003). If Saccharomyces spp. is used, the final product can be used in products destined for human consumption like ethyl alcohol for tinctures and pharmaceutical preparations. In this system only the first distillation is pharmaceutical grade. The subsequent distillations are bio-fuel grade. Clostridium spp. has been studied for the production of a biofuel grade end product.


Avgerinos and Wang, 1980, experimented with using Prosopis pods from North America for ethanol production. They noted, “up to 83% of the total carbohydrates present in hybrid mesquite were utilized with the production of ethanol at 80% of theoretical yield”. They used specific strains of Clostridium thermocellum and C. thermosaccharolyticum in combination to produce ethanol. They believed that in theory the advantage of using a mixed microbial system would result in a higher ethanol yield since the cellulosic, hemicellulosic, as well as the soluble sugar fractions in the pods are utilized. Their experiments demonstrated that .4 grams of ethanol was produced per gram of substrate. Additionally, Felker et al., 1986 performed research in California, USA and found that: “on areas with groundwater present, the spacing would not be contingent on reducing water competition and standard orchard spacing of 7X7 m would be adequate for 200 trees per hectare and a 10,000 kg pod yield per hectare. On range situations where water is the limiting factor, a 4,000 kg/ha pod yield has been suggested.” These numbers come from the temperate Prosopis species native to that region which are less productive and have a shorter growing season than kiawe in Hawaii. The study also noted that: “If the malt process (starch hydrolysis) was avoided and the sugar fermented to alcohol at a theoretical conversion of 2 moles of ethanol per mole of glucose, one acre (4,000 lbs) would produce 111 gallons of ethanol per year. If the malt process were employed to complete fermentation of remaining pod carbohydrate, and the same ethanol yield of 2.6 gallons per 55 lbs were obtained for mesquite pods as for wheat, corn, or grain sorghum one acre would yield 190 gallons of ethanol per yr.” Based on their projections these authors suggested that: “The land area required for small commercial-sized ethanol production plants (1,000 barrels/day) could be contained in a circle of radius (maximum haul) of 6.8 miles, assuming a conversion of 2.6 gallons of ethanol per 55lbs of pods and a 4,000 lb/acre pod production. 12% of the land area in this 6.8-mile radius would be devoted to high, woody, biomass-producing mesquite varieties to provide energy for the distillation process. The calculated area (12% of total) required for distillation energy assumes production of 4,000 lbs of oven dry wood per acre/yr, 8,000 btus per pound of wood, and an energy requirement of 25,000 Btus/gallon to distill alcohol.” Finally the authors recommended that to realize the full economic potential: “Mesquite pods should be fractionated into sugar, protein and gum fractions. After the pods have been dried at 52 C (126 F) for several hours they can be ground in burr type mills, which release the seeds from the sugar containing pericarp. Seed cleaners are available, such as clipper cleaners from Burrows Equipment, Chicago, Illinois, which perform good separation of the seeds and floury pericarp.” Another method of achieving the full economic potential of Prosopis pods is to utilize them in a system of successive transformations using yeast, fungi, animals and then finally back to the soil. This type of system will be discussed below.


Pod production of 10,000 lbs per acre/yr might be possible on a river bottom site with unlimited groundwater. [Author notes = ie. Puakō] 10,000 kg/ha = 22,000 lbs/ha or 8,907 lbs/acre * 300 acres = 2,672,100 lbs (Move down to Puakō section) 10,000 lbs / 55 lbs = 182 * 2.6 gallons = 473 gallons per acre per yr (figures from temperate species in optimal conditions cited in study above) 473 gallons X 300 acres = 141,900 gallons of 100% pure ethanol per year from 300 highly productive acres at Puakō. This number could be higher because the tropical P. pallida is assumed to be more productive than the temperate species. 141,900 / 50 gallons = 2,838 cars at 50 gallons / 52 weeks per yr = 54 cars with 50 gallons per week (pure ETOH) or 540 cars with 10% ethanol @ 50 gallons per week. This is the most optimistic estimate based on the very unique site of Puakō. This analysis does not include sugar cane intercrop, which would approximately double the yield. Ethyl alcohol is not an efficient fuel for combustion. However, pharmaceutical grade, organically produced ethyl alcohol for currently sells for ~$1,500 per 55 gallon drum. The yields quoted above would translate to $3,870,000 wholesale revenue as pharmaceutical grade ethyl alcohol. There would still be biofuel grade ethyl alcohol byproducts available from this process and the mash can be used for several other co-products.


          In Brazil a biofuel system is used that bosts an 8:1 conversion of sugar (cane?) to ethanol, based on sugar cane production. It has been estimated that ethyl alcohol system of this kind in Hawaii would require 4-5K acres in order to break even economically. Several hundred thousand acres will be required to meet Hawaii’s fuel needs. Where will we grow food once all of our land is focused on bio-energy production? Co-products are key to economic viability because a diversity of products breeds market stability during fluctuating market prices. If the price of ethyl alcohol suddenly drops, kiawe pods can be diverted to human food or visa versa. Kiawe has been overlooked as a multifunctional crop due to water consumption falicies. People vs. mechanization is important to contemplate. Do we want our future industries to be human scale and sustainable or do we want to remove humans from the equation all-together? “Labor is a challenge – employment is critical and on-site-housing makes it possible! *Big Island is tough - have to bulldoze = not efficient - sugar cane on Big Island is tough! - Very rockey = bad for combines. - If “Pearson” technology happens it could change – 150M gal/day - 1M gal/day/acre = sugar cane - Water is key - High fiber cane = gasification - Current strains = sugar variety - Fiber works with gasification technology - Ethanol needs to be priced at $3.50-4.00 to be viable. (Notes from Bio-energy conference)


Can switch feedstocks based on price and availability - 2-3 years = new factories for processing - long term transition to local feedstock - $60M/yr is spent on fuel from out of state

Peak usage is 6-9pm - Challenges to renewable energy = high cost ($/MWh), high initial capital costs, environmental opposition, social opposition, firm vs. non-firm capacity

*400 gallons of oil = 1 American year - Community commodities = yes! - Marine fuel and transport, etc. most important use.


Federal Working Biomass Utilization Working Group – support the utilization of woody biomass by-products from restoration and fuels treatment projects wherever ecologically and economically appropriate and in accordance with the law. = native flora and fauna, healthy watersheds, better air quality, resilience to natural disturbances, and reduced wildfire threats to communities, provide an alternative waste management contributing to rural economic vitality and national energy security. Bryce Stokes (bstokes@fs.fed.us), John Ferrell (john.Ferrell@ee.doe.gov), John Stewart (John_Stewart@ios.doi.gov) - www.hawaiienergypolicy.edu/


Intercrops are important for maximizing land use diversity and efficiency. Biodiesel is dynamite fuel for electricity!


Biodiesel -> energy in = 1 -> energy out = 3.2

Ethanol -> energy in = 1 -> energy out = 1.3


Some of the top oil producing energy crops for veggie oil / biodiesel are listed below and are possible to intercrop with kiawe or use in an integrated system. All listed crops are edible and medicinal.


Energy Crops:

Algae (10-85% oil) = 10,000 US gal per acre in less than 1 year

Oil Palm (40-70% oil) = 760 US gal per acre in 3-8 years

Kukui (45-65% oil) = 380 US gal per acre in 6-10 years

J. curcas (40-60% oil) = 300 US gal per acre in 2-3 years

Coconut (60-80% oil) = 287 US gal per acre in 5-10 years

Avocado (10-30% oil) = 282 US gal per acre in 1-3 years


Malasian Palm = feestock of choice! Increases by 10% each year globally – Diversity of supply. 500 gallons per acre in palm oil = 20% of all diesel = 115K acres Kukui is being looked at in Hawaii. 42 gallons = 1 barrel


Some useful statistics with regards to sugar cane are available below. Note that while sugar cane appears to be more profitable on a per acre bases than kiawe this economic analysis does not address the issues associated with co-crops for food and bio-fuel or labor issues, housing issues, and the rugged terrain land issues faced by much of the state of Hawaii. If all the available value added products are tallied on a per acre basis then kiawe is actually more viable than sugar cane. See more in Puakō section below.


Useful Sugar Stats:

14 lbs of sugar = 1 gallon of ethanol

1 short ton of sugar = 142.9 gallons of ethanol

7 tons sugar per acre @ $.175 per lb = $2,450 per acre

Including molasses total revenue per acre from sugar cane = $2,708

$2,970 per acre + additional electricity production = $295 + tax credit of $.10 per gallon = $3,375 per acre

New technology may increase revenue per acre to $8,066




          Currently, efforts are focusing on marketing Prosopis fruit flour as a carob substitute or marketing each fraction of the pod individually (Bravo et al. 1994). Nutiva is one of the largest importers of P. pallida from Peru in North America. They are focused on replacing soy with kiawe in all of their protein shake products. (Roulac 2006) Currently, Volcano Island Honey Company is marketing their kiawe white honey from the Puakō kiawe forest as a gourmet honey for upscale markets like Whole Foods Market and Neiman Marcus. The Honey is sold by the half pound in clear glass jars that fetch about US $15-20 per jar. Kiawe is rare in Hawaii and becoming less common everyday due to development. VIHC capitalizes on the rarity by asking a higher price for their honey. Often they cannot keep up with the demand for their honey. It has been recommended that they diversify their product line by selling flour from the Kiawe fruits, lumber / artisan wood and other specialty items derived from the kiawe trees. It has also been suggested that perhaps they teach other honey producers in Prosopis forests in other countries how to produce a similar quality honey to their own. In this way, people in developing countries could boost the profits gained from managing their Prosopis forests and provide a similar quality honey to high-end markets during times when VIHC doesn’t have honey. The forest wins and the people win. The same is true with pod flour products. At the time of this writing (8/18/06) companies in the US who market P. pallida flour from Peru are sold out and there is no more flour available until the next harvest in Peru. Hawaii could be filling this gap right now, accept that the infrastructure is not yet in place. The big picture of Prosopis product marketing is that by investing in Prosopis products from around the globe, investors are helping to mitigate global climate change by helping the people who manage Prosopis forests have a stable market for their products with the greatest economic benefit. An excellent [one?] way to accomplish this is through a global Prosopis products website that emphasizes the sale of Prosopis products from around the world. Ideally, each producer would be vertically integrated and one website would correlate them all so that interested buyers could go on-line and purchase direct from the producers. A kind of one stop collective of Prosopis products producers that helps get the foresters on-line in one place so they are easily found by investors or buyers. This maximizes the profits direct to the forester and the efficiency of building a Prosopis afforestation system that is economically viable. Imagine making foresting the deserts an economically viable endeavor, which in turn benefits the people and mitigates global climate change! True socially responsible investing for global benefit.



Management Options for kiawe Forests

No attempts at complete eradication of Prosopis have ever been successful! (Nabhan 1987) “Trees demolished by chainsaws resprout at their bases, growing back into multi-trunked shrubs”. (Nabhan 1987).” 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T – contain dioxin and cause cancer and more (Nabhan 1987) “Chemicals fail to achieve the complete kills of all Prosopis pests for which they are targeted. Pods lodged in adobe bricks for forty-four years, when unearthed, germinate and grow into vigorous seedlings. Mesquite is too tenacious, too resilient, too variable to be simply subsumed by man’s manipulations. Its abundance reflects our failure to control the desert environment more than any harmony with it. Mesquite is like a funhouse mirror, exaggerating our actions so that we may see them for the follies they really are.” (Nabhan 1987) Past attempts to eradicate the trees and shrubs without considering the underlying causes for their spread, such as selective advantage over non-N fixers on impoverished sites, have usually led to reestablishment of dense stands. (Felker and Patch 2005)


It is essential that further research be undertaken on the development of productive, sustainable, diversified and economic land use systems for tropical, arid zones. Prosopis stands are often managed for either fuelwood or fodder, as forests with undergrazing, and rarely for poles, honey, timber or gums. However, there is the potential for developing landuses that can produce a range of tree products concurrently in agroforestry systems. The thinning of natural stands or plantations to wide-spaced, single-stemmed trees would increase the growth of understorey grasses or agricultural crops, and reduce overall water use. Leaving a clear bole up to 2 m high would maximise revenue from timber production. Periodic lopping would produce fuelwood and poles, while introducing beehives would lead to honey production and increase pod yields and trees could be treated to greatly increase the yield of exudate gum. Studies on all of these interventions are required” (Pasiecznik et al.).


“Studies on succession suggest the possibility of ‘ecological control’, by leaving succession to take its natural course. The invasion of Prosopis species into rangeland has been observed and studied for over a century in the USA (e.g. Archer 1995), and for long periods in South America (e.g. D’Antoni and Solbrig 1977) and India (e.g. Chinnimani 1998). Long term ecological observations and the use of models have indicated that dense thickets associated with the problems of invasion are only a temporary stage in the process of succession. Initial stages of invasion involve the introduction of small numbers of Prosopis trees, which eventually produce seed and act as centres of dissemination (Archer 1995). Prosopis stand density increases if land use systems allow the establishment of seedlings, leading to the formation of dense thickets where conditions allow. Chinnimani (1998) showed that, eventually, Prosopis density declines as other species become established, and, if left to take a natural course, a new vegetation complex will occur with Prosopis as only a minor component (Pasiecznik et al.).”


Soil Development

“Typically, 1500 kilograms of water are used to produce a kilogram of mesquite, so that considerable soil moisture is gobbled up by the tree shading the herbs. And yet, despite this competition, herbs are often huge, with large seed sets under mesquite. (Nabhan 1987) The discovered existence of another kind of harboring effect can help explain the herbal abundance below mesquite. Nitrogen becomes concentrated in mesquite islands, even though the usual deficiency of this nutrient is nearly as limiting to desert productivity as is lack of water. Mesquite trees have long been known to be nitrogen pumpers. That is, their extensive root systems pull in whatever available nitrogen exists in the soil and rock strata below, and it is pumped into the canopy. Leaves and pods falling are essentially dumping nitrogen as litter below the canopy, enriching the topsoil. Recently, however, scientists finally confirmed that symbiotic bacteria also associate themselves with mesquite rootlets as they do with other legumes, forming nodules, which fix nitrogen as an additional source for the tree. In an otherwise nitrogen poor desert, mesquite and its entourage of herbs sit in a pocket of riches”. (Nabhan 1987) The resident Biologist at the Hualalai resort did an informal study of the effects of kiawe removal from the resort lands. He measured water quality and found a spike in both nitrogen and phosphorous following removal of the trees. (Speigel, 2006 Personal Communication) “All in all, Prosopis has the ability to accumulate more of this scarce macronutrient than can nearly any other desert plant. With the help of rhizobial symbionts, mesquite islands are essentially self-fertilizing. Peter Fleker once calculated that on a hectare of mesquite dominated vegetation, the equivalent of 300 kilograms of ammonium nitrate is added to the soil by a year’s litter accumulation. …soil below mesquite grows richer as the tree grows,,,” (Nabhan 1987)


Animal Control

“Recruitment of Prosopis seedlings is prevented or very much reduced under the crown of mature Prosopis trees (Simpson 1977). Correct management of understorey vegetation, maintaining ground cover and preventing over grazing, will also restrict recruitment through effective competition. Maintenance and improvement of soil fertility is also thought to reduce the competitive advantage that woody legume seedlings have over other species (Geesing et al 1999). [This statement is the key to the entire management strategy and needs to be used elsewhere to emphasize that we want to conserve large trees as a means to control the forest and encourage a new species complex to emerge over time!] Controlled burning, inter-row cultivation, collection of pods and grazing of livestock such as sheep and pigs, which kill ingested seeds, can also be used to prevent further seedling recruitment. Livestock production can be significantly improved if conditions allow for understorey management. “Marked differences were noted in the germination of ingested seed following passage through different animals by Mooney et al (1977), who noted that seed germination was 82% with horses, 69% with cattle but only 25% with sheep. P. flexuosa seed were killed completely followed ingestion by pigs (Peinetti et al 1993). Replacing free ranging cattle with other livestock, particularly sheep or pigs, possibly in conjunction with other control methods, could drastically reduce spread of Prosopis species. Planting of productive forage species has proved to be economic in several countries, and interplanting with agricultural crops may be possible on better soils in higher rainfall zones” (Pasiecznik et al.).


Intercropping with Kiawe

“In efforts to reduce the number of stems per hectare and to improve the form of the remaining trees, pruning of multiple stems and low-lying limbs is desirable for intercropping. (Felker and Patch 2005) In northeastern Brazil, the prickly pear cactus Opuntia ficus var. indica (fodder or edible varieties) is commonly grown in association with P. juliflora. Edible crops also can be grown in association with P. juliflora during plantation establishment stage. The spacings of 10 x 10 m and 2 x 1 m were recommended for corn (Zea mays) and macaausar bean (Vigna unguiculata) in alternate rows. With buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), leaving 2 m diameter around the P. juliflora trees free of grass is recommended” (Pasiecznik et al.). Sugar cane may also be possible and would allow for mechanized harvesting of the cane. Both feedstocks can be processed in the same way with the same equipment and the cane benefits from the additional nitrogen and microclimate conferred by the kiawe.


“Crop trees were left on 10-m spacings to accelerate their growth. From a self-thinning study (Felker et al. 1988), we determined that 10-m spacings should be capable of supporting trees with a 37-cm basal diameter. We were concerned that thinning trees from 1700 trees/ha to 100 trees/ha was too great an initial thinning. We realized that 3- to 4-cm diameter trees on 10-m spacings would provide little competition to newly encroaching mesquite seedlings and that individual trees on such wide spacings would have a tendency to produce many more lateral branches than desirable for quality lumber production. While an initial thinning to 3S4 m (from 8700 stems/ha to ca. 1000 stems/ha) would have been more desirable, we did not have sufficient manpower to conduct this thinning by hand”. (Felker and Patch 2005)


Mixed species agroforest

Monkey pod, Milo, Kou, Hala, banana, papaya, coconut, avocado, mango, macnuts, taro, ko, grapefruit, watermelon, gourds, etc… One option for how to manage the Puakō Kiawe forest is as a mixed species agroforest, consisting of both traditional Hawaiian canoe plants and non-traditional introductions that would fit well with the site constraints of Puakō. Some of the potential species are listed above. The goal of this strategy would be to manage the kiawe for the long-term eventual replacement of it with other more productive cash crops. Initially, the kiawe acts as host tree but is ultimately overcome by the developing understory. The understory eventually over takes the Kiawe and shades it out forming an overstory. The principal overstory trees would be things like Monkey Pod, Milo, Mango, etc. The kiawe would phase out of the system naturally or just be cut and mulched to feed the new trees once the production of kiawe pods wanes to nearly nothing. Kiawe would still exist at the edges of the forest and holes in the canopy kept around in case of crop failure during major drought or in case of some other natural disaster, which would cause the fall of the canopy. After such disasters, Kiawe would return for a time repeating its cycle again until phased out by a longer term more stable and diverse forest.


Golf Courses

Many golf courses along the north leeward coast of the Island of Hawaii already make use of the naturally occurring kiawe on site. The tendency at the local golf courses is to prune off all of the side shoots making one single stem with a large crown. This is perfect for pod production and lumber production as well as being of the least fire danger in this condition. Kiawe is so important that people have been reported to uproot kiawe trees and sell them as landscape plants - one reason why a nursery should be established immediately offering straight trunks, prolific sweet pods, thornless grafted trees. More golf courses are planned so why not integrate with the Kiawe and utilize its services as a nitrogen fixer, and in this case, a water catch tree with value? Managing the trees in this way would assist in golf course maintenance, function as exceptional edge along the fairway, making organic golf courses a possibility and nearby organic agriculture a reality. If the golf courses near kiawe forests are managed conventionally they will very likely jeopardize organic agriculture in the forest. Integrating kiawe in any golf course design makes sense; it is after all, a return on the investment of water and nutrients, if nothing else.


Managing Dense Weedy Thickets (Early animal origin infestation = energy production)

“The young plants, set thickly together, have been successfully grown as hedges which are quite protective on account of the thorns (Fosberg, 1966) Cattle brought Kiawe to Hawaii and it will be cattle that enable man to get kiawe under control. Wrastle up kiawe. Round up kiawe? Planting areas using cows would result in a cheap means for planting an energy forest for the production of industrialized bio-energy production. Designate appropriate sites for industrialized energy production. Prepare the ground = if lava than smooth and grade. Fence the area. Bring in cattle and kiawe pods and fatten them on site. Irrigate the area with a truck and tank or permanent irrigation.


In the past, Texas ranchers have attempted to kill the entire stand with aerial applications of herbicides or to use heavy equipment, i.e., bulldozers, to sever the roots and, thus, kill the trees (root plowing). The root plowing provides virtually 100% immediate kill of all the Prosopis in the stand. However, 10 to 15 years after root plowing, a similar high-density stand of Prosopis often occurs from seeds in the soil. (Felker and Patch, 2005) The value of the intercropped plants, the avoidance of perennial land clearing to eliminate young mesquites, and the final lumber sale all point to the advantages of managing immature mesquite growth. (Felker and Patch, 2005)


We believe that the Prosopis invasion of recently cleared pastures is heavily favored by depleted soil nitrogen pools which give nitrogen-fixing Prosopis (Johnson and Mayeux 1991) a competitive advantage over non-N fixing grass species. Therefore, simply physically removing the Prosopis by bulldozers, still does not address the fundamental issue of depleted soil N reserves. (Felker and Patch 2005) We believe that once Prosopis has occupied an area, the only long term, permanent, and sustainable solution is to thin the dense impenetrable stands to isolated trees that can be encouraged to grow into large trees. These large trees then will provide the intra specific competition to prevent dense encroachment by young Prosopis. (Felker and Patch 2005) Karlin (1990 pers. comm.) found that in Argentina, buffel grass had greater forage production under the canopy than outside the canopy. (Felker and Patch 2005) The combination of lower air and soil temperatures and greater soil N and soil C may make it possible to grow grass species not before considered possible. (Felker and Patch 2005)


Soil with compacted hard pan layers, as in many alkali soils of the Gangetic plains, should have a hole dug with a tractor-mounted auger, 20-25 cm diameter and 1-1.5 m deep and the holed refilled with the original soil with 8 kg manure, 3 kg gypsum 10 g zinc sulphate and some insecticide (Dagar and Singh 1994). Trees respond well to irrigation, with excellent coppicing ability, and maximum fodder yields are obtained when the trees are pollarded on a three-year rotation. The best growth is achieved in areas when the root system can reach groundwater, but in low rainfall areas, especially in fast draining soils, irrigation may be required during establishment. Early pruning to encourage an erect form is recommended. (FAO Ecology and Management)




“Roots get brackish water they get big”. (Paris 2006) High winds blow over the trees cause the roots can’t support them. (Paris 2006) A fork in the tree will inevitably get unbalanced so one side will snap in the wind (Paris 2006) After to Kauila, kiawe is the next hardest wood. It is found in Puuwawa area and was reduced in numbers by range fires (Paris 2006) At sites like Hapuna state park, the kiawe trees are pruned and maintained so they grow large, tall and straight. If they grow too tall however, they are prone to be blown over by the wind because the symmetry of the tree is such that the shallow roots cannot support the tall tree in the intense winds of these coastal regions. For this reason the arborists top the trees so the crown stays dense and all of the energy is focused through one main trunk. This creates a symmetry that is reminiscent of a large fruit tree with a large, tight, broad canopy and one straight trunk. This process benefits pod production and provides prunings that can be chipped and returned to the tree or used as fuel.


Several manuals available over the Internet outline methods for propagating Prosopis (Pasiecznik et al. and Tewari et al.). In Haiti a specimen of Prosopis was selected for its fast growth, high pod production, straight trunk, sweet pods and lack of thorns. This strain was propagated and has been spread in orchards as far across the globe as India and Peru. India has found similar strains in the wild. The challenge has been that Prosopis has been spread indiscriminately across the globe. By the time it was realized it had already been done. Now efforts are being made to clean up the mess and sculpt nasty infestations of spiny, non-productive, messes into highly productive forests. The tree is just doing what it is supposed to do – what it does we just don’t like it so we need to work with it a little to coax out a compromise.  Superior strain developmet projects have been in effect since at least the 1980’s. Hawaii has even attempted to propagate thornless trees for a while. The genetic shuffle occurs inside sprouting seeds and one can never be sure what will arise. However, by clonal propagation it is possible to increase the likely hood of retained characters from the parent material. Air layers work well. There is a beautiful thornless kiawe at the Waimea arboretum on the north shore of Oahu. It is important to layer erect stems for making erect trees. Prostrate limbs will produce prostrate adults. Scion wood can also be collected and grafted to young vigorous rootstock. By cloning the Champion Tree at Puakō, “Goto’s Kiawe”, it may be possible to create a forest of such trees 100’ tall with no spines, enormous girth and sweet nutritious pods. Pruning trees of this size down to the first fork would greatly increase its productivity. Because the trees grow so well in the leeward coast environment, are drought tolerant, provide shade, food, lumber and microclimate they are an ideal candidate for landscape plants in its range. It is also perfect in an agroforestry species sequenced system where non-preferred varieties are stumped and then grafted with a preferred scion. The grafted tree grows within a system sequenced with other plants that harmonize with kiawe and provide products over time gradually moving out and being replaced by the kiawe or another plant in the system. Larger species like sugar cane would help create competition for light that would force a young kiawe shoot to stretch, forming a straight trunk. Hapuna Beach Park has excellent examples of the human integrated Kiawe agroforest coastal cline. The Paradise Grill sums up kiawe in Hawaii quite beautifully: Ocean Breeze, Bees, Trees, Flowers, Honey, Beans, Ohana, Firewood, Pigs:  Luau!   


The area north of Kawaihai to Hawi (Big Island) is an excellent example of a managed silvopastoral kiawe forest. Rick Gordon 2006 says that this area has actually been intentional managed via pruning for many years. The form of the trees is a result of intensive management not through fire and cattle as much as via pruning by human hands. The area around mile marker 16 north of Mahukona and Kapaa Park Makai of the highway up to the bend in the road before Hawi town is excellent and was managed by Heartwell Carter for the Parker Ranch. Mauka the highway is scrubby and less productive as is the case along the entire leeward coast. It has probably burned (under control) several times over its lifetime keeping the spacing of trees quite wide with most trees displaying full canopy without touching another tree. A neighboring site was recently thinned using 10 people for one week with chainsaws and extension saws to prune the trees up so the canopy is at least 10 feet above the ground. Enough posts evolved from this pruning to make a large kiawe fence entrance way including kiawe post spacers. This is ideal from the perspective of flower and pod production but not for lumber because the trunks are multi-stemmed and very twisty from the wind. This region is in the northwest leeward coast of the Big Island and is both wetter and windier than most leeward coast sites. This region would be ideal for mushroom cultivation on kiawe logs and for grazing cattle. This area has filled out nicely over the last 20 years and is now at a mature enough stage of development that beekeeper Richard Spiegel is ready to attempt keeping hives in the region. The concern is the winds in this area are often fierce and it is a much wetter area than Puakō. The area also affords less protection from the elements than other areas along the leeward coast. This could mean more dfficult flight for the bees and harsh conditions for the delicate flowers. Though large fruit sets have been observed in this region (Spiegel 2006). 



In terms of fire, Kiawe is the most dangerous and most susceptible to fire of any tree found on the leeward coast. It is the dominant (in some places the only) tree along the leeward coast. It has very high Btu value and is often found growing amongst dry grasses and dead branches of its own making. Generally fire is believed to kill kiawe outright. However, in reality, fire can and often does, pass through stands of trees chewing up the young trees and scaring the trunks of old trees. Soon after the fire, the old trees heal and resprout, the green grasses come back and the forest has been effectively thinned. About 25% of the stumps left behind will sprout if conditions are favorable. Due to oversight, kiawe has not yet made the DLNR and “Firewise” protection manual for fire prone trees. In places where Kiawe has entered the system and been allowed to grow to adulthood, have not been managed, and interact with short fuel sources such as is the case with fountain grasses and Kiawe along much of the leeward coast of the state, the issue of fuels reduction and fire mitigation need to be addressed. Kiawe is great firewood and thrives in arid conditions. On the island of Hawaii we witnessed recently a ground fire that moved across the slopes of Mauna Kea / Kohala and stopped just short of the Waikaloa subdivision – tragedy narrowly averted. Puakō is the prime example of a forest in need of management and will be examined in a case study below. In general, fire mitigation strategies related to Kiawe as the primary tree species would emphasize the removal of fuel loads on the ground, pruning the trees up so that no branches touch the ground or are even accessible to the tongues of fire below 10’. It is important to minimize the regrowth leading to dense thickets of young woody trees. Multi-stemmed trees would be pruned to single stems and the crown kept high and wide to facilitate shade around the trunk and branches as inaccessible to ground fire as possible. This would aid in preventing the ferocious crown fire – the most destructive of all.



Monocropped Prosopis forests do have appropriate applications. In the case of fuelwood for energy production or pod production for ethyl alcohol, monocrops make sense. Fuelwood systems are usually very dense with lots of skinny stems harvested via a special harvesting vehicle. Fuelwood forests could be grown in a human effluent cleansing system. This would be a community scale Prosopis forest integrated in series with other systems that cleanse the effluent. Gloeophyllum striatum could be included as a means for breaking down xenobiotics. On a 3-15 year rotation the fuelwood crop is harvested mechanically and chipped to provide feedstock for wood gasification boilers to generate heat and electricity for the community. Alley cropping would be necessary for ethyl alcohol production in a similar waste treatment system. In this case the products would be lumber and pods for producing biofuel grade ethyl alcohol.  Both systems convert a normally expensive to process effluent into feedstocks for economically viable products while mitigating the toxic waste. Fencing an area and feeding cows kiawe pods can easily establish short rotation fuelwood crops of small diameter trees. The cows will pass the seeds ready for germination. This means of establishment is quite economically attractive and may even yield a profit by fattening cows during the summer.


Managing Coppice Prosopis (Felker and Patch 2005)


In managing native Prosopis stands, the two most important considerations are to:

1. Capitalize on the intra specific genetic variation to increase the genetic potential of the stand

2. Optimize the tree size/tree spacing relationship to obtain maximum economic benefit from fuelwood, lumber, pod production, and soil improvement (Felker and Patch 2005)


“These principles appear to hold true whether one is working with immature dense stands (3-cm to 5-cm diameter trees spaced 1 m apart), stagnated mature stands (15-cm to 30-cm diameter trees spaced 6 m apart), or multiple-stemmed coppiced stands (15 to 20 resprouts/stump with 4-m stump spacing). Therefore, it is important to measure the characters of interest (form for lumber, pod production, pod sugar, lack of spines) in native Prosopis stands, map location of superior trees, and initiate management plans to improve the overall productivity. Since fuelwood, charcoal production, and lumber harvests are a normal part of nearly all Prosopis stands, it is useful to direct tree harvests at the Prosopis with the least desirable characteristics, i.e., poor form and low productivity. The greater the number of trees/ha the smaller is the stem diameter” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“In forestry operations, reducing the number of trees per hectare, i.e., thinning, is a common practice that concentrates the growth on fewer trees, resulting in fewer trees of larger size. If a block in the center of a pine forest is harvested, tens of thousands of volunteer pine seedlings/hectare germinate and grow to form stands with 50-cm spacings and heights of only about 2 meters. As some of these trees die, the resultant trees become larger to dominate the site. Until the stand is again harvested, the tree population never increases, it only decreases with larger and larger trees dominating the rest of the stand. Thus, intraspecific competition from large trees may provide the mechanism to prevent the establishment of dense stands of small trees that constitute a weed problem” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“We have observed numerous dense stands of small-diameter Prosopis, but we have never observed such stands under the canopies of large (45-cm diameter) Prosopis. In one 500 ha Texas pasture that has been mowed yearly with a tractor, there are many scattered large Prosopis. Between the canopies of the large Prosopis there are many small, multistemmed Prosopis. However, directly beneath the canopies of the large Prosopis, there are no young colonizing Prosopis. Thus, it appears as if one defense against encroachment of dense stands of small Prosopis are large Prosopis trees” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“Meyer and Felker (1990) also reported a significant increase in growth of the main stem for treatments that reduced resprouts. (Felker and Patch 2005) In considering how much to thin the stand, we considered that 100 trees/ha (10 by 10 m spacing) with 37 cm mean basal diameters would maximize lumber volume in this stand (Felker et al. 1988). Given the current density of 193 trees/ha with a total of 356 stems/ha, it appeared prudent to just convert all multiple-stemmed trees to single-stemmed trees, thus eliminating 163 stems/ha. When this was done, the stacked volume of thinned trees and branches greater than 3 cm in diameter was found to be 32.7±2.4 cubic meters/ha. In 1989, the value of the thinned material was $22/cubic meter, thus the retail value of the thinned material was $726/ha. The labor cost for thinning, pruning, and stacking the small logs with chain saws was $320 at $3.35/hr. Thus, not only did we open up the stand for potential growth, but the malformed stems were eliminated and a net revenue of about $400/ha was projected” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“Grafting superior scions onto coppice regrowth using the techniques of Wojtusik and Felker (1993) could offer additional exciting developments. That is, after trees were harvested and the coppice regrowth were thinned to a single stem, scions with superior pod production, pod quality, lack of spines, or superior form could be grafted onto the coppice shoots. With the combination of an extensive root system providing rapid growth, and superior genetic materials, much progress in genetically upgrading the stands could be made very quickly” (Felker and Patch 2005)”


Cloning Elite Trees (Alban 2002)

“In the past, Prosopis has been regarded as a terrible noxious weed and as a wonderful source of fuelwood, feed for livestock, and feed for animals. Due to the extensive natural Prosopis stands in Asia, Africa, North America, and South America, the greatest and most cost-effective returns will probably come from managing native stands rather than plantation establishment. After monitoring productive trees in native stands, i.e., for form, pod production, pod quality, lumber, and spine characters, undesirable trees should be eliminated and sold for firewood and lumber. Scions from the remaining elite trees can then be grafted onto the coppice resprouts of the culled trees without having to produce seedling nurseries or transplant trees to establish new quality trees in the stand” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“Balancing attributes”

“For lumber trees, a single trunk with minimal branching is ideal. In contrast, a tree needs to have a branched canopy with many locations for pod production. In addition, there is competition for photosynthate for trunk and pod production so that trees with high pod production would be expected to have lower production of vegetative biomass in the form of timber” (Alban 2002).


“The opportunity to dramatically improve the production of native and naturalized stands of Prosopis is illustrated by the fact that in a plantation of uniformly treated trees, less than 5% of the trees produced 61% of the total pod production at the end of the fifth growing season (Felker et al. 1984). In a California native stand, we found Prosopis with bitter pods and with 40% sucrose nonastringent pods within 50 m of each other. (Felker and Patch 2005) There are two obvious general approaches to improve the genetic composition of the stand. One approach is to eliminate the inferior trees through culling trees for firewood, charcoal, etc. The other general approach is to insert genetically improved material into the stand. The first approach simply involves ranking all the trees for desirable characters such as pod production, pod quality, erect growth, rate of growth, form, and lack of spines. Then trees that do not meet a composite score of the desirable characters are removed from the stand” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“One technique for turning a stand of weedy kiawe trees full of thorns and bitter pods into a productive, intensively managed orchard is to simply save high quality trees from the stand and stump the rest. As the stumps resprout they can be grafted with elite clones, thereby turning the diverse marginally useful former tree stand into a homogeneous orchard of known genetic quality. The only way to capture these elite trees is by cloning” (Alban 2002). Need to GPS map the trees.


*Trunk height to first branch

*Diameter at breast height

*Total tree height

*Canopy diameter (Alban 2002)


“This same ranking should also be used to select the elite materials that are well adapted to the site. The most expedient technique for establishing additional individuals of the elite material is simply to graft budwood from the elite materials onto the coppiced shoots of the trees that have been culled. Wedge-graft techniques have been described (Wojtusik and Felker 1993) that, during the correct time of the year (February), have a high percentage of successful graft unions. Due to the rapid growth rate of coppice shoots, the existing root system, and the few new trees required, this is a very economical and reliable technique to genetically upgrade native Prosopis stands” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“Cuttings from these rejuvenated plants are being used to produce rooted plants, as this technique is more efficient for mass propagation. (Alban 2002) Scions and budwood were taken from the mature trees to graft or bud onto unselected genetic stock in the UDEP greenhouse – Double English grafts and chip budding were conducted according to the technique of Hartman et al. Double English grafts yielded 68% success while 80 budded plants yielded 55% success. All these clones had spines that varied from about 5-10 mm in length, depending on the level of stress experienced by the plant (the more stress, greater spine length) and whether or not the shoot originated from a recently cut surface (greater spine length). Thus we felt the principal utilization of these clones would be in seed orchards. As Prosopis is self-incompatible, seed from clonal seed orchard theoretically would consist of hybrids between the various clones. Since a mature tree can produce 40 kg of pods from which it is possible to obtain 2.5 kg of cleaned seed at 25,000 seed kg, a one ha seed orchard of 100 trees could produce more than 6 million seed per year. There have never been seedlots or clones available that resulted from genetic improvement trials. However, recent successes in rapidly grafting 1.5 mm diameter, 30-day-old seedlings and recent improvements in rooting of difficult clones with intensive management of the environment of the cuttings, may make clonal agroforestry plantations of commercial scale feasible. There is additional cause to believe commercial scale plantations of this species may be possible as it is the easiest of the Prosopis species to root. These clones could also be useful to convert weedy, non-productive stands of P. juliflora into highly productive stands by harvesting the weedy trees and grafting onto tender coppiced sprouts. This technique could also be useful to upgrade to higher quality Peruvian stands after the harvest of trees for lumber. It would be most interesting to examine the performance of trees that combine scions of these high pod producing, fast growing trees with root stocks that have been shown to be resistant to seawater salinity or high pH” (Alban 2002).


**It is common knowledge that Kiawe posts root well when planted fresh.


“At this time we believe the greater problem with this species is the lack of uniformity in plantations, that precludes development of commercial plantations for pod production. (Alban 2002) Thus, use of clones with minimal thorn length, erect habit and abundant sweet pods should overcome the previous objections while continuing to provide high tree survival rates and vigorous growth. Obviously research must continue to identify additional clones with superior pod production, lumber production and resistance to pests, disease and edaphic factors (salinity and high pH)” (Alban 2002).


“The 9 ha plantation of 1,800 trees was established in January 1988 on the grounds of the Universidad de Piura, Peru with a spacing of 10X5 m (200 trees per ha). The seedlings were drip irrigated for the first four years until the trees reached permanent groundwater at a depth of 10m. An evaluation of form, diameter at breast height, pod production and pod palatability was conducted in a 10-year old plantation of 1,800 trees in Piura, Peru and seven were selected that had: more than 20 cm DBH; an erect form; 100% of branches with pods; and pods with a very sweet flavor. Scions and budwood were taken from these trees and successively grafted onto greenhouse grown stock plants to be used for clonal multiplication. For the first time we report successful chip budding grafting of Prosopis. This is the first report of Peruvian clones that have been selected for high production of highly palatable sweet pods. 40 stock plants of each clone are being grown under drip irrigation in the greenhouse where they produce about 1200 cuttings clone per five-week harvest cycle” (Alban 2002).


Clonal Propagation

“To take advantage of exceptional characteristics from individual trees, some form of clonal propagation is desirable. There is danger in using clonal material for plantations and insertion into existing stands, due to a restricted genetic base that may not have sufficient genetic variability to be resistant to new pests and diseases. There is also the possibility that inbreeding depression may result from seed of a narrowly restricted genetic base. It is difficult to know what is the correct balance between the outstanding gains to be achieved from using the very best individual trees, versus the dangers from exposing narrow genetically based stands to pests and diseases” (Felker and Patch 2005). “Of the four types of clonal propagation, i.e., tissue culture, air layering, rooting of cuttings and grafting, the latter two techniques are the most promising. Despite many Ph.D. person-years of research on Prosopis tissue culture, no viable system has resulted (Felker 1992). Air layering is successful, but this technique is much slower than either grafting or rooting of cuttings” (Felker and Patch 2005). When air layering, it is necessary to select erect stems in order to end up with an erect tree. Prostrate stems will result in prostrate trees (David Orr 2006). “While it is virtually impossible to root cuttings of mature field trees, greater than 50% success can often be achieved grafting young branches of mature trees onto seedlings or shoots on other trees” (Felker and Patch 2005). This statement is clearly not true in Hawaii as the prevalence of sprouted kiawe posts planted green is high and most people know about kiawe’s propensity to resprout after planting as a post if it is planted green.


“Resultant grafted seedlings can be grown under drip irrigation in pots in a greenhouse environment, from which young shoots can be harvested monthly which have 40% to 70% rooting success with the proper environment” (Felker and Patch 2005). “Nonmist, high-humidity boxes (Leakey et al. 1990; Sandys-Winsch and Harris 1991) and solar powered mist systems (Wojtusik et al. 1994) have both been reported to be successful in rooting Prosopis cuttings. Routine commercial production of Prosopis cuttings has been difficult. A Texas company propagating Prosopis for ornamental street trees had excellent success propagating Prosopis alba clone B2V50 but much more difficulty propagating another thornless P. alba strain and was completely unsuccessful in propagating a thornless Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa” (Felker, unpub. obs. In Felker and Patch 2005). “Because 2,000 two-node cuttings can be produced per month from 80 stock plants in 20-liter pots in a greenhouse under drip irrigation, two people can cut and place these in pots under a mist system in 8 hr, and 50% of these will root under ideal conditions in four weeks, rooting of cuttings is the most efficient way to produce clonal propagules. Grafting will routinely produce much higher percentage success than rooting cuttings, but it is much slower” (Felker and Patch 2005).


“There is also the possibility of obtaining seed from clonal seed orchards of thornless trees to produce hybrid thornless seed. Because Prosopis is self-incompatible, two clones in the same seed orchard should produce virtually 100% hybrid seed of the two parents. If all parents were thornless, even if thornlessness were recessive or dominant, the seed should produce thornless progeny. Given the outstanding characteristics of the thornless Peruvian Prosopis, it would seem very worthwhile to establish seed orchards using clones of thornless high-sugar-content trees” (Felker and Patch 2005).


Puakō is essentially a wild stand of Peruvian Prosopis. All that is needed to convert it into a hybrid stand is to cut out the inferior trees and graft onto the resulting stumps with superior clones. 300 acres of highly productive, elite clones would produce millions of pounds of hybrid seed in just 1-2 seasons after grafting.


Active Cultivation with irrigation


While this manual is technically about kiawe the tree, it has as much to do about the topic of water as kiawe. The topic of water winds its way through the kiawe story. Kiawe develops a long taproot when it must reach deep to find water. This in turn helps with the overall stability and symmetry of the tree. When the trees have ample surface water via periodic flooding or irrigation, the trees lateral roots develop to the detriment of the taproot leading to a form that is more prone to windthrow unless it is pruned periodically.


“In each of the first six months of the vegetative cycle of P. pallida, the stem and leaf characteristics increase linearly, slowly during the first three months, accelerating from then on. P. pallida develops better its vertical root system when minor water volumes are applied; with the increase in water volume there is horizontal growth instead. There is a great interdependence between root horizontal and vertical growth and water volumes, getting close to the xerophytic plant conditions, in this case 192 m3/ha. Trickle irrigation changes the morphologic balance of P. pallida, as it does with other plants. Thinning decreases water usage”. (Montesions et al.; Felker et al. 1983)


Studies by Dahl (1982) showed that this species is capable of reducing its transpiration rate drastically and drawing firmly held water from the lower substratum. It is also capable of tolerating water-logging for certain periods. (Saxena undated)


Kiawe normally develops a deep taproot following the gravity of moisture flowing towards the water table and then evaporating back up to the surface into the atmosphere. This cycle drives the taproot deep and creates a balance and semetry conducive to dry windy climates. When it is irrigated its surface roots develop to the detriment of its taproot. When given the opportunity, kiawe will grow well with unlimited acces to water. This is amazing when viewed to the contrasting characteristic of drought tolerance in kiawe. So, it appears as though kiawe can grow well with nearly no water or unlimited water. Growth rates are directly correlated to water availability. More water equals more growth. Less water equals less growth. In situations where kiawe is desired for product, production water is obviously desirable. However, clean water is precious, especially along the leeward coast. For this reason, it is another benefit of kiawe that it has a high tolerance for salt. Much of the water available along the leeward coast is brackish naturally. Fresh, potable water should be conserved and used primarily for human drinking, bathing, and food production. This water can then be recycled through gray and black water systems that pass through kiawe to be filtered via utlization by the tree. The water is used more times and even filtered before being returned to the natural hydrologic cycle. 1,500 kilograms of water are used to produce a kilogram of mesquite. This water is transpired into the atmosphere where it is brought back up slope via clouds and then deposited back to the earth as rain. In this way the water is not lost as is usually believed but rather it is conserved in the overall system. The water can be picked back up at the top of the watershed by reforesting the watershed. This in turn will make water available on the surface for young trees establishing. Dawsett 2006 said he “planted tree plots to bring rain”. By planting trees that grow tall and catalyze presipitation of atmospheric moisture there is more rain that falls in an area planted with such plots versus areas not planted. These trees will help hold the water table closer to the surface. A raised water table contributes to the periodic flooding which used to happen in Puakō but was lost after the sandalwood were logged. Reforesting the watershed will restore this natural event and make the bottom of the watershed where the kiawe resides even more productive and positively benefit the reef. Thinning the kiawe forest for maximum spacing of large mature trees contributes to the efficient utilization of water and allows more water to be available for the reef. This process builds upon itself and becomes gradually more efficient, abundant and healthy over all. When we use the water from human effluent treatment plants to produce co-products other than municipal water, the overall system becomes more efficient.


Municipal water became available in Hawaii in the 1950’s. Before that time, the attitude with regards to water was: capture, conserve, disperse over the land and infiltrate into the ground. When municipal water became widely available, the attitude became, shed the water, flush it, drain as quickly as possible, put it into lava tubes or pipes and make it disappear. This attitude has led to an irresponsible water management practice that has contributed to loss of soil and our most precious resource – pure, clean, fresh water.



Social Forestry

The management of Kiawe tends to be labor intensive. In the recent past children were the primary labor force for kiawe pod harvesting. This author continues today to meet adults who were sent out as children to collect kiawe pods for horses, cattle and pigs.  Labor in the State of Hawaii is at a premium. The cost of living is higher than most places in the U.S. and the leeward coast of all islands has the highest real estate value. The labor needed to manage kiawe will need to commute to or live on the site and will need higher than average wages. For these reasons kiawe is an excellent candidate for social forestry. Several demographics fit the bill for kiawe. 1) Youth – programs like Americorps provide opportunities for youth to work hard while acquiring practical skills, education, and performing useful work for the community. These service learning oriented organizations would be a perfect match for many early phase projects involving Kiawe infestations. It is also possible to employ 2) non-violent criminals and drug offenders in the rehabilitation of Kiawe dominated lands especially during the initial phases of clean up. 3) People with special needs or disabilities can find meaningful work in Kiawe forests throughout all phases of management by collecting and sorting wood, beans, and packaging kiawe products. 4) Educational Internships – WWOOF and the like? Why not turn a problem into several social solutions?


Summer Opportunity for Island Youth

“The Hawai‘i Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC) is an educational, enriching, and life-changing summer opportunity that is free to any student.” – Gerry Kaho‘okano, HYCC Program Coordinator

HYCC participants are mentored by and work alongside leaders in the field of conservation, and they actively participate in environmental restoration efforts throughout Hawai‘i. Participants, who must be no younger than incoming high school juniors and not older than incoming college juniors, learn about environmental conservation, Hawai‘i's native and endangered plants and animals, teamwork, the cultural relationship of the Hawaiian people to the land, and much more. All learning takes place in the field -- hiking and working in breathtaking habitats. HYCC participants can also expect to camp, work in a variety of ecosystems with conservation agencies, and travel inter-island (including a trip to Kaho‘olawe). Team leader and member positions are available on all the major Hawaiian Islands. No previous conservation experience is necessary.

HYCC runs from June 11 through July 20, 2007. HYCC participants receive a stipend and 3 UH college credits (if eligible). HYCC participants also receive CPR, First Aid, and tool training. Applications must be postmarked by March 2, 2007. Download an application at www.hawaiiycc.com or call (808) 247-5753 for more information.




All options should be explored to their fullest potential and educational opportunities can be created around that exploration. Kiawe encompasses the full range of topics to be dealt with for a sustainable future. Invasive species issues, native plants and their restoration, sustainable organic agriculture, indigenous cultures and wisdom, integrated ecological systems, aquaculture, animal husbandry, natural products development, ethnobotany, food security, ecological succession, social restoration, etc. An educational curriculum built around Prosopis would cover all of this and more. We need, as a collective species to remember how to manage and care for and when necessary restore, planetary ecological resources. Prosopis issues touches on all of these. The Big Island of Hawaii with its diversity of ecosystems would make a premier earth-restoration-education site. The proximity of the resorts to the forest will make it possible to have educational experiences with lodging nearby.


Case Study: Puakō Hawaii

Puakō History: Puakō to Puakiawe to Puakōu?

Kahena Point – “Place of the unwanted dead, hell?” – English Hawaiian Dictionary               



“The proper management of the kiawe forest is a win-win situation. Initially, the state would probably have to finance the cutting, mulching, and the charcoal industry. A percentage of the charcoal, fence post, mulch, honey, and kiawe beans would eventually more than repay the capital outlay needed to start this process” (Luce 2006).


History of the Place – Coral Reef and Fishing Village to Cane, Cattle, Residences and Resorts


The forest resides at the base of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hualalai and to some degree is fed by Kohala. It is considered part of the Ahupua’a of Lalamilo. At one time Lehua, kou, and ‘iliahi and heau sandalwoods, curly koa, hala and more comprised the forest and shores of Puakō.


The area known today as Puako was formerly a Hawaiian fishing village. There was ample fresh water in the area to allow for human settlement and anchioline ponds formed the along the shore allowed for the raising of baitfish and pronds. Life must have been simple in thosed days. The reef off shore was known as a good territory for harvesting octopus.


Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway

Ahupua’a Lalamilo and Kalāhuipua’a

Auwai – irrigation ditches

Dry taro and sweet potatoes

Limu seaweed

Kīholo lava plane


Reef, Microclimate, Protective Forest

Situated immediately off shore to Puakō is a beautiful coral reef that harbors turtles, sharks, eels, octopus, reef fish of all sorts and beautiful coral. This reef is a valuable resource for the state and needs to be protected. Currently the kiawe serves to protect this reef in several ways: Protection from soil erosion, nitrate run off from residences and resorts, temperature of water and air locally is cooled by the kiawe forest. What would happen to this reef were there a catastrophic fire event in the Puakō Kiawe forest? One can imagine enormous ash loads blown onto it by the wind, major silt deposits from floods carrying the ash and debris from the former forest across the road and depositing it on the reef. This would spell disaster for the reef. Furthermore, the fire would wreak havoc on the residences and resorts. It is safe to say that this type of scenario needs to be avoided at all cost. A fire mitigation program for Puakō will need to also address flooding, and forest access as well as economic issues. Without the Kiawe trees at Puakō the intense Kawaihai winds would constantly cause damage depositing sand and soil all over the residences and the reef. The trees help to stabalize the climatic conditions locally.



Puakō is a unique site for the leeward coast of the Big Island due to its location in a flood plane. The flood plane has brought soil with it from up mountain creating rich conditions for agriculture. The soil has been measured as deep as 30-50 feet in some places before reaching the 5,000-year-old lava flow below. Eight feet is said to be the shallowest of soils in Puakō (Thevine 2006). In addition, the site has a water table 4 feet down in some places (Shumate 2006). Sugar cane was once grown on a commercial scale in Puakō, hence its name: Pua = flower and Kō is the Hawaiian word for sugar cane. The area was once flood irrigated but the Mauka deforestation that occurred largely during the sandalwood trade has resulted in a decrease in water running beneath the surface and the frequency of periodic floods.


William Paris (2006) noted: “Puakō was planted by Robert Hind – the man who started the Puakō sugar plantation. Wild sugar cane that grew without irrigation made sugar production in Puakō possible in 1895. It was found that there was no more salt in the water at Puakō than other well water irrigated sugar cane fields. Waimea stream to bring water to Puakō field…” Generations of logging sandalwood in the mountains had destroyed the watershed and altered the climate. The drying effect of the wind left salt behind that could not be leached out – sugar is Pau! “Swipe” was illegal alcohol for making homebrew. The predominant trees along the beach were curly Koa, 2 varieties of sandalwood & hala. Goto children worked gathering kiawe beans. “These were either dried and shelled on the spot or ground and bagged and shipped by water to the hind properties elsewhere”. 12 ½ cents per 40-lb bag. When the mill closed they [children harvesting kiawe pods] had to walk 1 ½ miles from shore to find kiawe.” Alfalfa & guiea grass, corn, sweet potatos, Hawaiian tobacco, cotton, mustard cabbage, tomatoes, coffee and watermelon were grown with varying rates of success, but no large scale opperations ever seemed to take root. There was lots of charcoal produced in Puakō by the Fugi and Fukamitsu families (Paris, 2006). On page 97 of “An Affectionate History of Puakō” there is a photo from 1947 showing how Kiawe had mostly covered Puakō entirely by that time.


Lamb brothers – pigery – white pigs – bred with wild pigs half breeds did best – corn

Alika Cooper – Mellons – Franklins ate seedlings – irrigation cause salt in unarrible land.

Peppers, tomatoes – solinaceaous plants good in Puakō


Parker Ranch

Less than 60 years ago, the Parker Ranch was a self-reliant ranching community. They had a system of barter for goods and services and there was no refrigeration. Life was simple and fulfilling. Kiawe (and panini to a lesser degree) was the backbone of successful ranching in Hawaii during times when there was no grass forage. Keholo bay, Puakō, and Kewaihai were the sources of most of the beans fed to cattle during that era”. The Parker family had bought some of the Lunalilo royal lands in Puakō for use as a winter range for cattle and to facilitate the occasional shipping of their animals from Puakō bay.  Hind family held the land until the 1950’s when they sold it back to the Parker Ranch – between 1500-1800 acres of present day kiawe forest. Since there was no vehicle access they used ships (Paris 2006). People would load their stuff into the ‘lighter’ and take it to the mother ship and hoist it up with the ‘windless’ (Paris 2006). Lava was difficult so many roads didn’t happen. No paved roads into Puakō until the late 1950’s. Wagons, muels and draft horses were used to bring the posts up the hill. Posts from Puakō didn’t happen on a large scale until WWII when the military brought a road and 4X4’s. Keholo was a population center at one time. Parker ranch made more access”.

Cattle could move through Puakō and drink from brackish water and get fat on kiawe pods. Water and feed made cattle possible – the company would fatten steers before shipping them to market from Kawaihae. Cows and pigs spread the forest. Cattle came down from Pu’uwa’uwa’a ranch and stayed here for 3-4 months during the summer. Favorite stop on cattle drives to the north. Steers from Kaua Ranch going to Kona. Salt content of water = good for cows.


William Ellis Trail is one trail that passes through the area. There are also ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on lava in the region.



Organic Honey production has been the most successful use of the land since kiawe replaced sugar production. Fence posts have been extracted all along with and without permission and has been lucrative for some. The beekeeping methods that have been pioneered by VIHC need more development and dissemination. Organic honey production should be continued in Puakō and expanded to meet Puakō’s full potential. (See Puakō Potential Tables below.) As honey production reaches its full potential so too shall fruit production and lumber production.


Japanese Goto family “Gotos” Honey – late 30’s Ichiro & Yukie Goto 1940. Honey started at the time of the sugar mill continued until late 1960’s. Post 1924, Goto family increased production. Lasaro & Santiago = Philipino Workers installed honey houses & hives from Waialea Bay on the North to Paniau on the South. They built frames, set foundations, harvested the honey, cut and strapped it and delivered it to the US, and Europe on Sweedish freighters, one of which was shipwrecked on the Puakō reef. In 1925, the Goto family was receiving 7-8 cents/pound (Honey in 5 gallon cans 12 fl OZ – 1lb of honey * 128oz/Gal = 50lbs per 5 gallon can) for their product, during the great depression much of their market disappeared but by 1939 they shipped 550 cases of honey and by late 1941 they loaded 1000 containers (50,000lbs?), the peak of their production. In 1935 the bees failed. There was disease in the kiawe and caterpillars destroyed the blossoms – some of the deparate bees survived by eating their own honey and reduced honey production continued until a fire destroyed the last 25 hives in 1969. Barron Goto – eldest son… Pigs raised by Goto “They farmed pigs too” “They allowed the pigs to run free and feed in the kiawe woods and then strapped them for butchering or castration”(Affectionate History of Puakō) “They did not feed their bees in the off season and there was no other bee forage accept a kind of honey dew from the cane until the organism responsible was purposely eradicated” (Luce 2006).


Now, it has become the home to exquisite, gourmet honey, fungi and kiawe fruits in addition to all the Franklin birds living on fallen fruits and insects in the forest, which contribute to an overall ambience of a gourmet forest.


Natural Forces

Puakō has always been rough terrain subject to the whims of nature. Puakō ‘Olauniu winds gust up to 55 miles an hour frequently. There have been Tsunamis, which were responsible for much of the sand in the forest, and a major storm in 1980 destroyed large portions of the reef and coast. “In 1987 a fire started in nearby Waialea Bay, which began in the north and moved down the hill past the present day transfer station and blazed through the forest doing considerable damage” ”(Affectionate History of Puakō). Regularly floods enter near the present day fire department and water treatment facility.



Several anchialine ponds and two springs (near the church), hind had dug 6 wells during the development of the plantation – 2 functioned recently for Mauna Lani Resort – brackish water for irrigation - Ponds for saltwater fish, mollusks and turtles.


There are still several ankioline fishponds in Puakō. We know aquaculture works in Puakō because it is still working. One option for the utilization of the abundant fruits and fresh and brackish water available at the site is to build large-scale aquaculture ponds. If placed between the forest and the residence, ponds would double as a firebreak (Thevine 2006). Aqauculture makes a lot of sense in Puakō due to the availability of a food source on site, an outlet for the product in the immediate local region and the availability of water. It would serve the community multifunctionally by providing fish and firebreak all in one. Quarries exist in Puakō close to the highway. These could easily be converted into ponds for aquaculture or to grow algae for biodiesel production.


100-500K gallons/day of effluent from Manu Lani Resort = treated on site right next to the warehouse and could be used in irrigation of firebreaks. It currently goes to water the coconut orchard. Currently R2 effluent; to expensive and dangerous to do R1 for golf course

*Excellent water and well on private land up high so can gravity feed. Very pure fresh water with low chlorides!


Coconut Nursery

          A diverse collection of coconuts has been grown for decades around Wailea Bay and Puakō. Currently, a private company that performs security services for the Mauna Lani also provides a non-profit landscape service growing a large coconut orchard fed by the Manua Lani effluent treatment wastewater. The coconuts are grown on a rotation and transplanted at a certain age as landscape trees in the resort. This organization also recycles the green waste and transforms it into high quality compost. This demonstrates the viability of several concepts with regards to the Puakō forest project (explained below): 1) nutrient recycling of effluent water and green waste 2) growing coconuts on site for bee forage and intercrop co-products.


Land Stewardship

The area now known as Puako was a Hawaiian fishing village. Modern purchases of the land have been ceded Hawaiian lands. Proceeds from ceded lands are to benefit native Hawaiian people.


Private land: formerly Territory of Hawaii

1)     Signal Oil

2)     Mauna Lani

3)  White Sand Beach LMTD Partnership


Golf course not realistic because residences = 40 private course, flood plane, agriculture, golf course private memberships do not make economic sense!!!


The publicly stewarded portion of the Puakō Kiawe forest is approximately 755 acres in size. This parcel is sandwiched in between private lands: the residences to the west and kiawe forest to the east up to the highway. The private land is owned by an organization that has plans to build a golf course. The golf course would need at least 150 acres for 18 holes. This would be a significant reduction of the kiawe forest and may threaten the organic status of the honey production depending on how the management group decides to manage the golf course. Managing the golf course using non-toxic organic agricultural methods is possible and would potential be a unique feature of the course. The course can be designed and implemented in such a way to make use of the trees to define the fairways and act as catchments for excess water and nutrients passing quickly beyond the reach of the grass’ root systems. The grass may actually benefit from the nitrogen fixed by kiawe’s roots making for a greener course with less fertilizer inputs. The trees will also create a comfortable playing environment buffering the players from the harsh sandy wind and intense heat that characterizes Puakō. The trees will be maintained as a part of the golf course maintenance and benefit from all the excess nutrients making for ideal conditions for lumber production. The trees can be thinned as they mature and milled nearby. The cut trees can either be grafted with a new select variety or replaced with the same. Another threat to the forest posed by the proposed golf course is the cut off of the natural flood irrigation and alteration of the hydrology of the site. The golf course is proposed to the eastern portion of the forest up to the highway. If a golf course is built in this area it will entail a lot of diversion and water capturing work in order to keep the periodic flooding from damaging the course. This diversion could completely cut off the forest from its lifeline.


Resort and Residential Perspective


This situation is truly unique for a lot of reasons, one of which is the proximity of the forest to the Mauna Lani resort. The development of Puakō into a sustainable agriculture, and educational site would also enable it to be used in eco-tourism/education packages developed by the resorts. This would be a truly unique feature to the Mauna Lani and possibly attract more business. The Mauna Lani has already displayed a commitment to sustainability by choosing to utilize alternative energy. They could take this commitment many steps further by supporting the forest management endeavor by purchasing the fish produced in the aquaculture ponds, or utilizing kiawe flour products in their foods or wood from the forest for energy. Puakō, if managed correctly, might actually be able to meet much of the resorts’ and nearby residences fresh fish, fruits and vegetables needs.


Puako Productivity – forest types vs. yield

Large, highly productive trees with their roots in water characterize approximately 250 acres of the public portion of the Puakō kiawe forest. At least another 50+ acres of this size exsist on adjacent private lands for a grand total of approximately 300 acres. There is more land with deep soil available locally but it is not currently covered with kiawe.


Smaller trees of lower fruit productivity and lower value lumber dominate the rest of the forest. Honey in these sized stands is of high quality and low productivity. Pod yields would be expected to fall in the low to moderate ranges. Generally, these kinds of woody stands are probably best managed as fuelwood. The issue though is that the areas with small dense trees are on top of the hard lava flow. They do not grow as large as the trees in soil because their roots do not reach water. Most of the Ancient Hawaiian burriel sites and rock art are found on top of the lava flow. Most of this forest type is therefore situated on top of sensitive cultural sites that need to be protected both from alteration by humans and kiawe. No mechanical equipment is allowed on the lava and so no mechanized harvesting can occur. Humans with chainsaws can go into these areas and clear the sites but this will entail a huge amount of labor and it will be quite difficult to reduce the fuel loads without chippers nearby. This type of situation characterizes most of the Puakō kiawe forest.

One possible strategy for this situation is to reforest with native plants in these areas. Reforestation with native, fire resistant plants on hard lava flows is being done at the Kaloko Honokohau National Park. This park can serve as an example of what to do with the lava flows of Puako. The historic Ala Kahakai trail passes through both Puakō atop the lava and the National Park. At the very minimum, the kiawe along the fuel breaks roads, access roads for the Mauna Lani and Puakō residential community needs to be pruned and managed for fire safety as outlined above. Living firebreaks of culturally appropriate, fire resistant plants should be used in this area and blended into the historic trail system.


Harvesting Bioenergy

There have been mechanical harvesters designed and utilized in Texas that would enable the effecient harvesting of dense kiawe stands for woody biofuel feedstock. This feedstock has already been tested by Community Power Corporation and found to be ideal feedstock for their BioMax gasification boiler units. BioMax units may be utilized on a community scale to provide electricity and heat for the residences and resorts, or on an individual scale to meet the needs of equipment for managing the forest. A system has already been designed which uses gasification technology to utilize kiawe wood to fuel the milling of the wood into lumber, pumping of water, refrigeration of honey, while simultaneously powering the drying and milling of fruits. This system, were it to prove effective could be exported and utilized in the management of other Prosopis forests through out the world. Mechanized harvesting is only feasible on small diameter wood (sapwood) from 5-15 year old stands. The sapwood contains nearly two-thirds the BTU value of the mature heartwood.


As an ideal location and living laboratory, Puakō is the perfect place to develop Kiawe fruits as a substrate for ethanol production. The fruits can be used to produce both types of ethanol products from pharmaceutical grade to bio-fuel. In keeping with pharmaceutical grade honey and high quality organic food, USP organic Ethyl Alcohol may be the first choice. Fuel grade alcohol will simply be a byproduct of the process. The quantities of fuel will be small so it may only be applied to on farm equipment like chainsaws, chippers, vehicles, etc. For most of this equipment it is only appropriate to use a blend of no greater than 10% ethanol. The knowledge gained may again be very useful in Prosopis systems elsewhere. Prosopis forest planted at other sites for strict biofuel production may be designed based on what is learned at Puakō.


Harvesting Pods

Mechanical harvesting techniques similar to those used by the macadamia nut industry need be applied to Kiawe pod harvesting. Mechanical harvesting would make possible the large-scale exploitation of Kiawe fruits for ethanol biofuel production by keeping labor costs minimized. Semi-mechanical harvesting captures pods on groung clothe and scoops them into a collection vehicle for transport to the processing fascility.


Champion Trees

Puakō harbors one of Hawaii’s “Champion Trees”. It is a kiawe situated on the makai side of the road near the old Goto residence while entering the residential community. The tree stands over 100 feet, has a straight trunk that does not fork until at least 10 feet up and is nearly thronless. It has been recommended that the tree be named “Goto’s” Kiawe after the (Ichiro Goto) Goto family who pioneered honey production in Puakō. Trees like “Goto’s Kiawe” are rare and unique, not just at Puakō but also throughout the state and the world. Trees like this one need to be propagated! Other trees of this size were more common in Puakō and stumps large enough for five people to stand around have been found deep in the forest. Because Puakō is such an ideal location for Kiawe to flourish it has expressed itself fully there. It would be wise to protect the genetics of this place and propagate unique clones from Puakō for use in local landscape projects, biofuels production and forestation projects abroad.


*Need to scan images from Puakō.

Kahena Point = old name for Puakō Point? = “Hell” – the place of the unwanted dead!

*Find remaining members of family of the Puakō fishing village.


Site Analysis

Notes from the Puakō Apiary E.A. (Spiegel, 2004)

Puakō Site = 550 acres

TMK: 3 rd/6-9-001:015

Less than 300 acres in kiawe forest (Spiegel, 2004)


The forest is large enough to span the full range of bees forage. (Spiegel, 2004)

Forest is isolated from contaminants (Spiegel, 2004)

Puakō is unique and unusually productive producing flowers heavy with nectar. (Spiegel, 2004)

Terroir = special sites for the production of unique products (Spiegel, 2004)


Site receives less than 10” of rain annually. Mean temperature is greater than 76 F. Wind patterns are diurnal. Onshore winds from mid morning to before sunset and cool westerly winds sink down the mountain at night. Wind velocity is usually 7-8 mph but high winds do occur. (Spiegel, 2004)

40’ above sea level. (Spiegel, 2004)

Soil = “Kamakoa” – very fine sandy loam alluvial. (Spiegel, 2004)

3 drainage ways flow into the site = Kamakoa gulch, unnamed gulch and Auwaiakeakua Gulch. It is within the 100 yr flood zone. Sheet flow of 2’ can occur.

It is also within the tsunami zone. (Spiegel, 2004) Perched sand

3.0 mgd fresh water discharge per coastal mile. 3.0 – 7.0 mgd groundwater discharge for the area. (Spiegel, 2004)

Site has high levels of non-organic nitrogen possibly uptaken by the trees. The forest helps to maintain existing nutrient balance. (Spiegel, 2004)

Historic trails – Puakō to Waikoloa-waimea uplands and the other from Puakō to Napu’u. (Spiegel, 2004)

The area was previously disturbed by the Puakō Sugar Plantation, which was done by 1914 and then used for pasture. Honey production began shortly there after. (Spiegel, 2004)

The forest helps to preserve the ozone layer by producing oxygen and cleansing the air. (Spiegel, 2004)

Ceeded lands are for: 1) public education 2) betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians 3) development of widespread farm and home ownership 4) making of public improvements 5) provision of land for public use. (Spiegel, 2004) 20% of revenues from ceded lands go to the office of Hawaiian affairs including rent paid by the site lessee. (Spiegel, 2004)

Noise pollution is buffered by the forest. (Spiegel, 2004)

Much of the native plant seed bank in Puakō may have washed away in floods or been destroyed by the sugar cane industry by 1914. Yet, new seeds may be trickling in all the time via birds, floods and wind.


*Develop maps of existing forest, productivity ranges, evaluation and residential/infrastructure integration potentials


Identify 3 major points for Puakō Forest Project – with respect to management and fire…

1) Forest is in need of Management especially with regards to fire.

2) Mitigate fire by fuel loads reduction, pruning the trees, and contain the further spread of the forest by collecting the fruits, prevent fires via living firebreaks, controlled burns, & selective grazing

3) Protect the coral reef, residences and forest from wind, flood and fire by preserving the forest.

4) Flood control by capturing floodwater and dispersing it evenly throughout the forest.

5) Utilization of value added timber and non-timber products derived from the forest to offset the cost of long-term maintenance needs.


Integrated Forest Management Strategy for the Puako Kiawe Forest

 Pays for Its Own Sustainable Management

By Producing Economically Viable, Value Added, Forest Products




* Forest

* Pristine Coral Reef

* Local Residential Communities and Resorts


Fire Mitigation

* Sort and Select Specialty Woods

* Prune the Trees Up from the Ground so Fire Will Pass Below

* Prune the Trees Down to Thicken the Canopy

* Thin Small Trees

* Select for Large, Mature, Unique, Highly Productive Trees

* Chip the Rest and Give to the Soil


Economically Viable Value Added Products

* Bee Products


* Wood



          Artisan Wood


* Bean Pods


Dietary Fiber Supplement

Bio-fuels (Ethyl Alcohol)


Coffee Substitute


* Mushrooms

          Desert Shaggy Mane (Podaxis pistillaris)

          Gloeophyllum striatum

Native Species

* Historically/Culturally Appropriate (Alahe’ePsydrax odoratum)

* Kiawe as the Host/Nurse Tree (Nitrogen Fixation, Shade)

Educational Programs

          * Hawaiian Culture

* Native Hawaiian Ecosystems

* Integrated (Sustainable) Forest Management

Create Jobs

* Diversify the Local Economy

* Provide Meaningful Work

* Include the Developmentally Disabled and

* Handicapped Citizens with Special Needs


“Chop Wood – Carry Water” = Fire and Flood Mitigation!

Fire Mitigation

The forest is divided into private and publicly controlled parcels, each approximately 500 acres in size. The most productive acres are within the DLNR (public) area closest to the ocean and Puakō residential community. About 300 acres of the public area contain trees 40-60’ tall with large canopies that fuse to form one large, mostly closed, canopy. The remaining 700 acres (200 public and 500 private) are characterized by dense stands of trees 10 – 50’ tall. A fire mitigation program is needed to protect the forest, coral reef, residential community and resort. A fire mitigation program would effectively clean the understory of all fuel loads and prune the trees up so that ground fire would pass beneath. The ground is covered in most areas by Buffel grass and Fountain grasses, which become dry and brown – the most likely vector for pyrogenesis. By clearing the understory it becomes possible to move freely beneath the canopy thereby enabling the harvest of pods. Research has demonstrated that the optimal density for Prosopis pod production is approximately 41 trees per acre or 100 trees per hectare. Tall trees with shallow root systems are prone to windfall. Pruning the trees down (topping) will help to “tighten” the canopy, balancing the symmetry of the tree so that it is not top heavy. This would also concentrate the energy of the tree, thereby facilitating increased productivity per tree and liberating more organic matter into the system.


Phases to Implimentation, bids for cost, who, what, when, where, how much…

Mauna Lani had sectors and zones with access ways for fire. They kept the fire truck full of water at all times during the summer months.


Burned underground for 2 years

Insurance policy for working forest increase costs


Mauna Lani needs a fire mitigation program and controls key portions of the forest near the highway.

Building for rent. Building near the solar array and water treatment plant

Wastewater goes to irrigate firebreak and in case of fire turns on and sprays.


Hydrology and Irrigation

          Water flows down from Mauna Kea and ends up in Puakō. Water flows constantly under the Puakō Kiawe forest at a rate of 3.0-7.0 mgd per coastal mile. It can be found only four feet down in many places in this flood plane. 8-50 feet of silt has been deposited throughout the Puakō flood plane, below which, resides the remains of a lava flow from 500 years ago. Kiawe would prefer its water to come from underground because rain is destructive to both the flowers and fruits. Experiments have been performed to determine optimal irrigation rates for Prosopis spp. Generally, it appears that Kiawe will send its roots directly into water and extract what it needs. Growth like what is seen in Puakō may be due to access to unlimited water and abundant nutrition. **Calculate hydrology cycle = use, loss, flow, etc.


Flood Mitigation

Army Corps of Engineers – ditches in Puakō – Original flood mitigation design captured the water and dispersed it evenly over the land in ditches that run parallel to the highway. The lates flood mitigation strategy captures the water and focuses it in a flume that pushes it down the road through the foret and out across the Puakō residence road into the bay. This method is not functional for the forest, the residences, or the reef. The former system needs to be reinstated. In addition to or alternatively, gabion baskets and or living flood and firebreaks can be established that capture flood silt, decrease the force of a flood and disperce the floodwater throughout the forest. These would provide fuel and function to shade out kiawe seedlings.


Firebreak and Flood Mitigation:

            The current firebreak system is expensive, must be repeated regularly, and does not work. The reason it does not work is because Kiawe is a rapid colonizer of barren land. Any plot of land that has been scraped, is uncovered by vegetation, hot, sunny, etc. is the perfect situation for Kiawe. Kiawe’s ecological role is to pioneer land that has been ravaged by fire, lava or other disaster that leaves open bare soil. Kiawe moves in, utilizes its nitrogen fixation capacity to literally grow out of thin air where no soil currently exists. With time the Kiawe will drop leaf litter and wood and create shade, thereby increasing humidity and rotting – perfect conditions for the creation of soil. Once soil is established new plants can grow there and successively overtake the Kiawe. This can occur after a large wind blows a kiawe over and the new light in the canopy and soil create the conditions for something nearby to flourish and overgrow the Kiawe. Once Kiawe is shaded its growth slows down and will eventually die, rot and move out of the system. It’s seeds have been demonstrated to stay viable in the soil for up to 50 years or more, waiting for the moment when catastrophe strikes and the trees are needed to heal the soil once more.

          Every time the bulldozer moves through the forest it brings with it catastrophe and leaves in its wake the perfect conditions for Kiawe to sprout up and do its job of healing the soil. This is why the current firebreak regime will fail because it does not address the long-term needs of the soil and honor the role that kiawe plays ecologically. A wholistic approach to the situation will address the needs of the soil and honor Kiawe’s role in the ecosystem. We have to remember the history of Puakō to date. First, lava past through Puakō some 5,000 years ago creating the flow that resides deep beneath the soil. The Hawaiians landed and altered the land as they needed to survive and make home in that place. After that came sugar cane. After cane came the cattle and the Kiawe. Kiawe just wants to help the soil heal by keeping it covered, increasing moisture and fertility so new life can emerge and eventually replace the kiawe. This process is interrupted every time the bulldozer passes through the forest. We must break out of this cycle because it simply doesn’t make sense economically or environmentally. Studies have demonstrated that the way to control kiawe from spreading is to select large trees and cut out the rest. The large trees will flourish as they fill up and occupy the space that was formarly occupied by many smaller trees. With the use of animals like pigs and sheep the grasses can be kept managed and the fruits can be eaten thereby decreasing the rate of germination. Succulent plants and actively cultivated fruits and vegetables will shade out seedlings as well. Therefore, firebreaks will consist of a few large trees with a lifted canopy that is at least 10’ before the first branch. Below the canopy will be planted succulent ground covers, native fire resistant plants and food crops. Sheep and pigs will be paddocked and rotated to reduce pods and dry grass ladder fuels. The understory will be completely devoid of coarse woody debris.


*Water enters under the highway at 3 places.


*Fire Vectors =

1)     Highway (close to Puakō Rd.) (E)

2)     Puakō Road to residences (particularly near the transfer station) (N)

3)     Residences (W)

4)     Hotel (S)

5)     Honey Production (C)

6)     Factor X = random events (ie sunlight is focused onto fuel via a piece of broken glass and ignites a flame) (?)


Most fires begin as a direct result of human activity. Of these vectors #’s 1,2,5 are the most likely candidates. Current firebreak efforts in the forest are mostly to protect the residences from the forest not the reverse. The implications are that most likely a fire in Puakō will result from the east or north: vectors #1 & 2 respectively. Ground fires originating from these vectors need to be prevented. The preventative measures recommended are: 1) clear all grasses from the roadside and replace with something less flammable like Agave sisalina. (Controlled burns and mowing along the roadside would work but they rarely ever happen) 2) Remove all dead standing wood between the highway and the rock wall. 3) Graze the grasses in these areas periodically. 4) Create living succulent firebreaks with the wall forming the inner barrier. Develop an irrigation system for the firebreak that doubles as an emergency water line that emits large volumes of water during a fire event. The Mauna Lani effluent water can feed this. 5) Remove all ladder fuels and prune all trees at the north and east boundaries of the forest. Graze grasses and run pig tractors regularly to consume kiawe fruits. 


Winds in Puakō run E->W in the evening. Some have observed that the winds also move from N->S in the early morning and S->N in the late afternoon but are generally onshore winds during the day and offshore winds at night. Wind patterns are diurnal. Onshore winds from mid morning to before sunset and cool westerly winds sink down the mountain at night. Wind velocity is usually 7-8 mph but high winds do occur.


Nighttime and early morning hours are the times of most likely fire danger to Puakō.

Generally, the Residences are of most concern and the Resorts have very little threat of fire danger. This is why so much energy has been focused on the excessively large firebreaks bulldozed between the forest and the residences. If the forest is completely managed and preventative measures utilized in the north and east boundaries the fire danger is minimized. All ground fires if not stopped by the firebreaks will simply pass under the trees not turning into a crown fire. A ground fire of this nature is far easier to get under control.


There is an old wall originating in the northeastern corner that runs from east to west along the edge of the forest along the northern boundary. The wall continues along the edge of the forest along the east boundary. This wall could be used as the foundation for a living firebreak. The firebreak plants would be planted along the outside of the wall. Irrigation lines lay inside of it. Ideally there are few kiawe trees outside the wall. Any that do exist are pruned up high. All grasses are to be grazed and/or weed clothed. The nursery plants rest on top of the weed cloth. By the time the plants are ready to be planted, the soil below is prepared, all of the grasses having been killed off. The firebreak/wall is planted this way over time. Eventually, the original plantings bare keiki and the break continues to spread. If planted in this manner, it may take a few years to complete but the results will be stable. When needed gabion baskets can substitute for the wall. All trees inside of the wall are removed or pruned up high and kept back from the wall as far as possible. Pigs run along the inside of the wall in pig tractors or fenced paddocks and eat kiawe fruits or the fruits are harvested for making flour. The Mauna Lani effluent treatment plant could feed an irrigation line for this firebreak. This gray water is perfect for watering firebreak plants and there could be hundreds of thousands of gallons available in case of an emergency. If a fire were to encroach on this firebreak a large volume of water could be instantly relaeased to spray down the length of the wall creating a wet barrier of succulent plants against a wet rock wall. Most ground fires would not be able to pass through this barrier as long as they are kept on the ground. It is essential that all ladderfuels are eliminated from the firebreak and ground fuels reduced to chips or less.


*Ground Fire = 1) Fuels Reduction 2) Living firebreak (at key placement) 3) kiawe containment

LFB – should be of succulent plants, create shade, retain moisture, utilize rock mulch, irrigation = drip/spray – paid for via C.S.A.


Steps to implement LFB:


1)     start @ north and east boundaries then residences, escape routes, current bulldozed areas, work the edge

2)     clean area of woody debris – push into burms or swales/ and planting with Bananas

3)     lay down ground cloth for nursery and irrigation access

4)     lay out nursery as layout for installation

5)     grow out nursery plants until they have a large root ball and are acclimatized to the local site conditions

6)     plant in phases/sections in succession until each area is complete

7)     gravel / rock mulch or woodchip mulch

8)     irrigate and weed as needed until the site fills out.

9)     Learn from mistakes and capitalize on success.


**The effluent from the Mauna Lani can be run through a pipe along the rock wall that parallels the Queens Highway. This pipe would normally only supply trickle irrigation. However, in the event of a fire, water can be pushed through large emitters that drench the length of the wall with many gallons of water, saturating the living firebreak at the press of a button.


Complete management of the Puakō Kiawe Forest will entail:

1)     Ladder fuels reduction – use a succession of cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. If animals are not allowed it will be very expensive to weed whip or mow. The animals only need be brought in for a quick browse and then removed.

2)     Immediately follow the animal treatment with woody debris removal, tree pruning and thinning. Woody debris removal may simply mean chipping everything right back onto the ground to feed the trees. Some pieces pulled off the ground may be lumber grade. A sawyer will be an integral part of the crew throughout the fire mitigation treatment. A portable mill can be brought to each section of the forest and set up on site as needed. Anything not milled or waste of milling will be chipped and put back on the ground. The chips will help to keep the dust down and forma a humidity barrier on the ground helping to retain soil moisture and make a nice area for the fruits to be collected from. The chips will also feed the trees, though there is some speculation that like Lychee trees, Kiawe fruits more abundantly when stress for nutrients. An abundance of nutrients in the system signals Kiawe to slow down fruit production, which would then allow more of an opportunity for other species to take hold and grow. If this is true than it may be wise to remove all the waste wood and use it in another application like wood gasification boilers for generating electricity.

3)     Before the crews begin thinning, the site will be surveyed for special trees containing elite characteristics: straight trunks good for lumber, tall trees, thornless, sweet abundant fruits.

4)     These trees will be marked and all else removed to a spacing of ~ 40 trees per acre in the large tree areas and greater density in small tree areas.

5)     Once the understory is cleared it is possible to harvest the fruits for human food and move into diversified products as discussed above. The fruits must be collected in order to contain the forest. Otherwise, all open sunny areas whether they are made as firebreak or holes in the canopy from thinning will be places that fruits fall and seeds germinate. Even if the fruits are collected, there will still need to be follow up treatments with goats and pigs to mow down sproutlings and eat extra pods. Pigs can be managed in pig tractors to assure they are kept controlled.

6)  It may be possible to perform regular controlled burns of the understory to manage fuels after the initial fire mitigation gets the situation under control.


*Now that the fire is out the flooding need be addressed.

*There are three main waterways. The primary source originates in the northeast corner. Flood water needs to be captured and spread through out the forest using 1) former drainage canals maintained by Mauna Lani 2) Newly dug swales after fire mitigation 3) Gabion baskets used in firebreaks and deep gullies at the flood water entry points. The northern boundary (Puakō Rd.) is elevated so water will bank off of this and run south and west. Ideally all water will be captured and retained on site. The water will not cross the western firebreak and will spread homogenously across the forest to the south as it has in the past. If an aquaculture pond/LFB is dug along the western boundary, the soil can be piled up to the east creating an embankment large enough to stop floodwaters from entering the residences. Ideally the embankment would be large enough to stop the flood from flowing over and spilling into the aquaculture pond but in the event of a very large 100 year flood event the aquaculture pond may serve as the last defense against a flood sheet 2 feet tall or more. However, if a succession of swales are drawn on contour, most of the water will be captured, evenly dispersed and absorbed. 


*Bids for Outsourced Fire Mitigation Labor

          **Mother Earth Father Time Tree Service

1)     ~$8,000 per acre if awarded large contract of 300+ acres (they will thin and chip only leaving all large logs on the ground and no canopy pruning)

2)     ~$32,000 per acre on a small scale acre by acre contract (detailed work)


**Robb Lamb ~$3,200 Per acre (Wants to use a D4 machine with rubber tracks – orchard developer, unlicensed, meticulous detailed work)

**Jacuntzki Brothers ~$4,000 per acre (bulk contract only – large company)

**Tigers (Have not yet received bid)


Follow up pruning will need to be done of the new green shoots that resprout after cutting. This mass could be collected as the basis for rich compost or simply allowed to return to the soil. In any case this will need to be done and only requires machetes and folding pruning saws. Cost may be in the range of $1-3 per tree or $40-$120 per acre = $12,000 - $ 36,000 (for 300 acres)


**The fire mitigation program is basically all about fuels reduction or “what to do with all the wood”. The major obstacle in reducing the fuel is the labor force and difficulty of the job. The least expensive option for reducing the fuel loads may be to use fungi and other micro-organisms as a means for proactive acceleration of the transformation of wood into soil with out having to touch it. This can be accomplished as follows:

1)     Create a large spore mass slurry or mycelium broth of Gloeophyllum striatum in a large mobile tanker truck and spray-inoculate the entire forest with it. Do this on the large piles that have been created during the fuel breaks bulldozing. It will be useful to cover the piles with weedcloth and plastic. This material can be recycled several times on other piles before needing to be replaced. This process would accelerate the soil building process and reduce the woody debris to essentially compost in a matter of months.

2)     A labor force will still be needed for thinning and pruning.

3)     The resulting soil will not be a fire hazard and can be mined and sold as organic compost for landscaping projects. This process has been done on a small scale locally and doing it on a large scale would be considered highly experimental.


Mushrooms! One method for fire mitigation which may be the least expensive is to simply move through the forest cutting all the ladder fuels reducing everything to a size that will lay flat on the ground. Prune everything that needs to be pruned and get it to the ground. Pull out posts that can be used in fencing paddocks and enough wood to power the system. Drive through access ways with water tanker and spray all the wood with a fungal broth (ie. EM Bochashi sprays, G. striatum, G. fasciculatum). Drench the areas at first, then repeat with lighter applications. Water comes from local well. Cover with weed cloth optional. This scenario may be the least expensive, will provide considerable fire safety, and create soil that will feed the trees and help with flood mitigation. Honey and Pod production will increase for years. The logs will act as sponges for moisture and the fungi will be able to share nutrients with the trees. The whole system will retain moisture and utilize it more efficiently. Grasses will act as moisture barriers, living humidity barriers rather than using weed clothe. Rotting woody debris will transform into future food for the forest leading to increased pod and honey production and increased soil development. Increased soil development accelerates species succession. Increased fire safety comes with a new species complex that is far more fire resistant and productive. A new forest of greater biodiversity, fire safety and more stable economic profile emerges from the pioneering kiawe forest.


Cut trees, buck up into 20” lengths, remove nothing but reduce the fuel loads to as flat as possible making contact with the soil. Spray everything with a broth of G. striatum and Gomus spp. Lift the canopy and reduce all ladder fuels to ground. Plant gourds everywhere and let them keep everything moist and shady. The wood will rot and become food for the soil; which will translate down the road to coconuts, honey, kiawe pods, and more Ala he’e and Sandalwood flowers. This will reduce the labor costs considerably and make for the fastest route to fire and flood safety as well as increased honey and pod production.


*The water from the Mauna Lani is used for the inoculum and sprayed out all over the forest. The water will simply soak into the ground after passing through the myco-filter (ie. the woody debris created during fire mitigation laid flat on the ground in contact with the soil). In this way the water is both filtered before it gets to the reef and recycled providing multiple functions. The fire danger is reduced and kiawe begins to move out of the system.


*Otherwise mushroom logs of G. striatum may be sold for ? purpose?


*The key is to speed up the natural succession cycles by application of water and microorganisms. Remove little from the site. Retain as much of the wood as possible. Place all large pieces in piles running lengthwise north / south or roughly parallel to the queens highway. The wood piles will rot quickly together and act as burms for flood dispersal. Enough wood should be salvaged each year to provide energy needs for the operation.


*The top quality genetics of this forest needs to be replicated in another area in an experimental clonal seed orchard.


Plant Succession Sequence +


C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture)

Puakō Community Firebreak fruit stand (C.S.A.)

*A community supported agriculture fruit stand

*Supplies fresh fruits & vegetables, flower leis, and more to local community and beyond

*Supplies nursery plants (native plants, fruit keiki, elite thornless kiawe varieties (graft/airlayers))


1)     Harvest fruits @ edge of forest (firebreaks) to contain the spread of the forest. (human – active / pigs- passive)

2)     Cultivate the edges/firebreaks/roads as a multifunctional firebreak

-          Bananas, aloe, papayas, coconuts, taro, mangos, breadfruit, cactus fruit, dates, pineapples, grapefruit, perrenial peanut

-          Flower leis (crown flower, plumeria, etc.)

-          Native plant boundaries (firebreak - edge)


*Whole, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables (kiawe products), smoothies, baked goods (need a legal kitchen = paradise grill)


*Need water (irrigation)

*Accept orders from restaurants, hotels, private residences to contract grow for them from the firebreak = fresh daily! They can purchase shares.



Taro = Beds 1.3m wide @ 30 beds/ha

*Taro @ 40X60cm in diamond

*55,500 bulbs/ha ~ 1 kg or 55 t/ha

*drip irrigation @120 lines/ha (4 per bed)



Before Puakō was a site for sugar cane production it was an excellent fishing village. It was known to be one of the best areas for harvesting Octopus. In addition to offshore fishing was the on shore ankioline ponds used for raising prawns and baitfish. In recent years (until circa 1994) the Mauna Lani resort leased the Puakō forest. During that time they quarried rock, cinder, gravel of all grades from the area, leaving behind large quarries. These now sit as barren holes in the ground. A few even have native aquatic organisms beginning to dwell in them. However, most have become sinks for fountain grass, kiawe and a few landscape palms. These sites are perfect for aquaculture ponds. Were they to be lined and filled, an enormous amount of fish protein could be raised using the surrounding kiawe as fodder for the fish either in the form of protein concentrates from the pods or by raising invertebrates on the wood and harvesting those for the fish. Where firebreaks are needed between the forest and the residences, a narrow pond could be cut from end to end and prawns grown in it for local consumption. Once cut, the pond would fill up naturally due to the presence of water just a few feet down. Once operational the pond would serve as food production, firebreak and a source of water in case of fire in the forest.


Mayor says, “Tree crops with perinnial peanut groudcover, Grapefruit and Mangos, harrow or flako rake – do not disturb the ground – 200’ prawns in ditch, Crown seeded, office of Hawaiian affairs” (Thevine 2006)



          As seen above in the section on bio-energy, algae are a high productivity crop for fuel oil. The Mauna Lani Resort has 100-500K gallons of effluent water running through its system. This water needs to be recycled and used to produce many secondary and tertiary crops. Algae are well suited for this useage. The effluent from the algae can then go to aquaculture or visa versa. The point is to utilize this water source for co-products. 1) Clean up ponds (living machines), 2) aquaculture, 3) algae, 4) kiawe/cocnut, 5) reef…


“Microalgae are some of the most efficient fixers of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the planet. Their ability to sequester, or trap, CO2 provoked extensive research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado from the 1970's into the 1990's.”


“Different species of algae may contain anywhere from 10-85% lipids, but the slightest contamination of a holding pond can greatly alter expected oil yields, thus decreasing efficiency and profits (Raleigh, 2006). Algae are native to many different habitats around the world, and choosing species for mass production is simply a matter of evaluating native populations for the highest oil-producing varieties. Algae are very good at utilizing sewage wastewater, water with high salinity, agricultural wastewater, and waste streams from fossil fuel power plants, as mentioned above.”


“By-products from using algae as a source for biodiesel would be the remaining biomass of plant residues (which has approximately the same BTU value as bituminous coal) for burning as an energy source, or use of the remaining plant residues as feed stocks for fish or livestock, due to their high-quality proteins. The production of biodiesel from the oils after transesterification leaves behind a glycerol, which could be used for soap production, similar to other methods of biodiesel production from vegetable oils. It is estimated that under ideal conditions in Hawaii, with pure stock of algae being produced, there would be nearly 450 usable tons of biomass ha-1 (400,000 lbs per acre) of algae ponds. This biomass could also be used for other fuel production purposes, such as methane production through anaerobic respiration, and further processing into methanol and/or ethanol (Raleigh, 2006).”

”Algae are some of the most intriguing options for biodiesel production in America and in Hawaii. Whereas many oilseed crops will take significant amounts of land currently being used for production of food commodities, algae ponds could be located on marginal lands and would not use any further freshwater resources. They could be located in the drier, hotter areas of the islands, where sunlight is plentiful, ocean water is readily available for pumping, and agricultural production is not as prevalent due to high irrigation costs. Algal ponds could also be located directly adjacent to existing fossil fuel burning power plants to capitalize on excess CO
2 streams for uptake by the photosynthesizing organisms. A Cambridge, MA, based company called GreenFuel Technologies Inc., have estimated that a 1,000-megawatt producing power plant, using a several hundred hectare-size algal pond farm could produce more than 40 million gallons (150 million liters) of biodiesel and 50 million gallons (190 million gallons) of ethanol in one year (Hamilton, 2006).”


Production of micro-algae for bio-fuel is still a developing industry that requires further R&D.


Nursery Establishment

            A nursery needs to be established on site. This nursery can provide the scion material for grafting to the wild trees to convert the less desirable trees to elite clones. Additionally the nursery will provide airlayers, rooted cuttings and elite grafts on seed grown rootstock for outplanting as landscape trees or for plantation establishment. Thousands of these trees can be produced in a small shade house and generate extra revenue. No data exists regarding returns but currently thornless kiawe tress are being dug up and moved to home sites for ~$2,000 per tree. Demand for thornless kiawe is high and something need be done to meet that demand on a sustainable basis. Posts planted while fresh and kept wet will sprout. This important attribute may form the basis of mass propagation of thornless kiawe. Rather than remove entire trees roots and all, it may make more sense to cut posts and large straight baranches and plant them to root them out and form live fence posts the yield sweet pods for animal fodder or human food depending on which side of the fence one sits J In Puakō, this will make a convenient way to establish corral areas for animal husbandry, or to establish an appropriate spacing for optimal production and fire resistance density. It is absolutely essential to begin a thurough survey of the forest and mark all thornless trees. Prunings from these trees should be segregated for specialty uses and or propagation. It may be possible to make this selection during the fire mitigation process but that will require someone overseeing the project to check each branch or for the laborers to be trained to find anything matching the selection criteria. 


Orchard Establishment

          Propagate the best and spread them around to fill in the gaps to maximize the use of the best site conditions.


Integrated Living System Design

The wood is harvested from fire mitigation program and regular pruning and thinning. Scraps from milling are recycled with other wood and used in wood gasification boilers, drying oven, baking oven, distillation unit, water pump, hammer mill, refrigerator, lights and office eqipment. Water is conserved at every step and between each module of the system the water is transformed, producing energy along the way. The water goes into the tree to make the wood, and into the Mauna Lani Resort from the ground. The wood drives the distillation of the alcohol made from the beans which in turn is made from the water. The beans require water to ferment and water is uptaken by the mushrooms decomposing the waste. The buringin of the wood creates the electricity and heat to drive the mechanized portion of the system including pumping water when appropriate. Water runs through irrigation lines to crops in the firebreaks and is released at high levels during a fire event. One goal of this system is to generate enough energy on site and use that energy to create an abundance of easily harvestable energy (an excess of energy) from the system. The system will produce much more than it needs to simply function. Currently the Mauna Lani generates excess in the form of aquatic effluent. This effluent when capture can provide the means to power the maintainance, preservation, and expansion of the forest as well as a surplus of energy that can be used for other purposes while simultaneously becoming clean enough to responsibly pass it to the reef. This is a sustainable, regenerative system that provides solutions to the challenges of the unique site. The threat of fire is delt with in a constructive manner, burned slowly and under control while meeting the needs of the community. A fire safe forest providing open space, food, bio-energy for the community, medicine, habitat, jobs, and other non-timber forest products is created via the fire and flood mitigation programs.  See system diagrams and flow charts for a visual guide.


**Product Diversification; Susccession Economics; Increase Biological Diversity

          This section needs to analyze the numbers over time. What is the expected cost vs. revenue of each phase of development of the site and products. Graph the inflow and outflow of products against cost and revenue. What will be the overall prognoses with respect to each successively developed and marketed product on one level and the succession of each new species in the forest on another level.


Pilot Study: Mauna Lani Resort with permission by Norman Ahee












Time In










Time Out

8pm          (8hrs)

4pm             (7hrs)

4pm           (6hrs)

4pm (6hrs)

4pm (6hrs)

3pm (6hrs)

4pm (6hrs)




¾ cord


~ 1 cord



1 cord

2 cords




Richard ($300)

Cut, cleared and stacked.

Cut,bucked, sorted, stacked, ~20 posts



CAB ($450)

Blasé ($400 + $500)




Notes: So far I have only harvested ½ + ½ = Blasé + ¼ for Cab, + ¾ for Richard.

I have spent $700 for the chainsaw, $450 on the truck repairs, $2,500 getting the truck, $200 miscellaneous, Insurance = $1,100 anually: for a total of  $3,850.

IOU: Mom = $600; Grandpa = $700 Total=$1300

Pro Rental = $700 (purchase) + $80 + $120 Rental

Waimea Country Wrench = $425.82

Fuel: $120 +

Drive Time: 14 hrs

Work Time: 45 hrs

Equipment Maintenance: 7 hrs

Total Hours: 66 hrs

Status = 25% complete

Total Compensation = $1650

Approximate Average Hourly Wage = $25/hr (Investment Capitol not factored)

Extra Labor = 6 hrs @ $17/hr


Total expenses thus far = $5,750 


1/11/07 – Today I just focused on clearing the area, thinning trees and bucking them up and stacking the wood in piles. There is a brush pile of all green branches and a post pile and several firewood piles. I have found several herbs growing there and a few palm sprouts. Natural regeneration does appear to be occurring on its own. This gives me hope that at this point it is possible to simple plant natives amongst the standing trees. If ground cloth is laid over everything it will speed up decomposition and enable pod harvesting. The work I did on 1/05 shows me that it is generally too much for one person to do the entire process of cutting, splitting, stacking and delivering firewood in one day. Therefore, my new strategy is to cut the wood and stack it out of the way until I am sure that I have at least one or more cords ready to be split. I can then rent a splitter and come in and split wood for as long as it takes. This way I will divide the workload, make equipment rental more practical and efficient and I will have a realistic estimate of how much product I have for sale and its value. Renting a chipper may not be necessary.


1/12/07 – Today I cut limbs and firewood, bucked up the branches, put the green tips in a pile, the sticks in a pile, the firewood in stacks, the posts in another pile. Chipping the greens would make a nice high nitrogen substrate. I counted 19 posts at the end of the day – some huge! The place appears much more organized and open. The little chunks of wood and sticks needs a solution. One way might be to chip them and another way is to pile it all up, and rot it. The large piles of wood that came from the bulldozer appear donting at first but I have been pulling posts out now as the primary goal. Cuting into the pile to get the post creates firewood in the process. Pulling the posts out reduces the size of the pile more efficiently. The system has become: Prune, Buck, Sort, Stack, Split, load, chip, plant. I found several palms regenerating inside the plot and some interesting herbs too. Kneepads, shin guards, and elbow pads would be very useful.  Mushroom logs 3-4’ long and 3-4” diameter stacked Lincoln log style and covered in plastic would work well. To do an EM Bocashi with the green branches and leaves there needs to be enough material to warrant a chipper and the chips need to be blown onto a piece of plastic and then covered in plastic after being spraid. The results would be very high quality!


1/31/07 – Rented a splitter for the weekend and had Evan help. Looks like can split ~ 2 cords per 6 hr shift. The greens and other sapwood material is not worth renting a chipper and therefore should be returned to the soil as was the original plan. This could save considerable time and expense if the bulk of the prunes are left on the ground. Using the Ernst Gosch method of laying the logs side by side on the ground and then covering with the greens would help make paths and ally ways for crops. Seeds can be poured out in seed mixtures into furrows dug between the rows of logs. Once in place the fire truck can come through and wet down the system to catalyze biological processes. Normon Ahee has just donated a 4,000 gallon water tanker to the project. The plan is to make large EM sprays or G. striatum spore slurries and spray down the area after it has been cut and sorted. Straight Branches of select genetics are first limbed clean and then tagged. They can be removed from the tree immediately prior to transport to the new site of planting. All branches too curvey for poles or posts need to be bucked and layed flat. (Fresh logs 3-4” dia X 3-4’ long can be inoculated with sawdust spawn of medicinal fungi before being stacked Lincoln log style.) The ideal firewood is the dry erect bones in full sun. This stuff should be cut and split. The piles made while cutting firebreaks are very dry and ready for firewood. The cheapest way to do this seems to be to remove all standing dead wood first, downed dry wood second and take away all poles and posts and leave the rest. Seed and irrigate.


Accounting for pilot study:

Labor time:

Labor cost:

Amounts harvested:

Amounts sold: = ~ 2 cords and been paid $700

Size of Area covered:

Equipment maintenance costs:

Insurance -

Cost of equipment -

Fuel Costs -

Maintenance costs -

Transport time:


Total Cost Analysis:

Labor per acre?


Equipment costs?

Water Costs?

Time frame?


Methods – economic comparison of the cost effectiveness of different methods.

1)     Value added products from wood (“Fight Fire with Fire”)

2)     Turn wood to soil (“Fight Fire With Water”)

3)     Bulldoze the forest and turn into soil, chip or haul (“Fire/Water Blend”)

4)     Do nothing to wood – plant with native trees only


*Molasses or kiawe flour as substrate.

*Kiawe pods lying all over the ground is the substrate!

*Business plan for flour production and products/biodiversity over time.


**Native and Indigenous / Culturally Appropriate Species

Ala he ‘e understory – flower essence (essential oils and carving wood)

One native species which could diversify Puakō immediately is Alahe’e. Alahe’e (Psydrax odoratum) is a large bush to small tree. It contains extremely fragrant flowers considered by some to exude the signature fragrance of old Hawaii. It would not be large enough to over take Kiawe but could serve to diversify the forest, and its economic profile. The trees flower twice annually. The flowers could be picked at the peak of their perfection and utilized to make Native Hawaiian Flower essences and essential oils. This would be a rare and unique product to Hawaii. This system would not disrupt monofloral honey production. Other native species like Beach Morning Glory (Ipomoea press-carpe), prostrate forms of Ilima, Naio, Ohai, and others are excellent candidates for drought tolerant native species firebreaks. There is a need for a concerted effort to identify and propagate natives that are drought tolerant, wind resistant, and brackish water loving. These need be propagated, and a genetic resource base be established. Once planted in one firebreak, they can be spread to new firebreaks over time. This creates regions of native plant strong holds that are protected in cases of fire and become a genetic bank to draw from as needed.


**Sandalwood can be planted with Mamane, Koaia or kiawe in the same pot before outplanting. The NFT’s nurse the sandalwood and are coppiced only when they begin to inhibit rather than enhance the growth of the sandalwood.


Loulu, Kōu, Milo and Monkey Pod Overstory (lumber and utensils)

Hardwoods suitable for lumber and carving like Milo, Kou, Monkey Pod, Yellow Shower, etc. should be considered. These trees will eventually over take the Kiawe and form an overstory. The greater the density the greater its effectiveness will be at phasing out Kiawe. It is best to do this at the outer edges of the forest for fire safety. However, once this process is initiated it means the end of monofloral Kiawe honey production. Loulu palms are already coming up in the pilot study plot as a primary successor.


Intercrop Coconuts, Neem, and Hawaiian Ipu Gourds

It is advisable for several reasons to intercrop coconuts at the same density as the kiawe trees. ~40 trees per acre would allow for year-round bee forage in the forest so the bees do not need to be moved to build up population while the kiawe is not blooming. They could be planted uniformly throughout the forest or just planted in sections so that the bees may access them when needed. The coconut flowers may be cut during the kiawe bloom in order to protect the monofloricity of the honey. As the bloom begins to drop off for the winter, the coconut flowers are allowed to show so the bees can collect nectar over the winter. Coconut honey is of a quality equal to Kiawe honey, which would keep high-grade organic honey production in full swing year round. Another advantage to Coconut intercrop is that the coconuts will be able to over take the kiawe very quickly, thereby casting a shadow upon the shade intolerant kiawe, as well as by acting as soil protection during floods. Depending on placement, the coconuts can either simply occupy space in order to keep new kiawe trees from germinating or actively begin to slow the mature kiawe trees in an effort to overtake and replace. Coconuts don’t have to slow Kiawe production if they are not wanted to. The coconuts would also provide valuable nuts for water, oil, charcoal and copra and fronds for basketry and mulch. Coconuts begin to flower between their 4th and 6th years and continue to flower for another 60-80 years. As mentioned earlier, Neem is an important tree for insecticidal purposes. Intercropped Neem trees will provide a level of protection without even being extracted, refined and sprayed. Planting them in this environment makes sense and will allow for usage in the future. Ipu gourds are extremely drought resistant, succulent and provide a high value product of cultural significance. Currently each gourd sells for approximately $10 once dried. The gourds have a long taproot that can reach deep to mine water. They are also pest resistant and provide a useful addition to living firebreaks and edges of the forest. They can be allowed to creep up the trees making a shady boarder and fruiting from vines hanging in the sun and dry winds of Puakō.


Kō (Sugar Cane) Intercrop – for ethanol production

          Were a drought resistant sugar cane variety again grown in Puakō it could double the output of ethanol per unit of land. Intercroping sugar cane with newly stumped kiawe would create competition for light that would force the newly sprouting kiawe shoots to grow very straight and tall amongst the cane. This would be an excellent way of developing straight trucnks for lumber production and grafting stock for elite clones. The cane feedstock can be processed using the same infrastructure as the kiawe feedstock.


**Novel Introduced Species


Crops for Bio-energy production

As discussed above in the section on bio-energy, kukui, oil nut palm, coconut, avocado and others have been reviewed or are currently being studied in experimental plots for the production of biodiesel. Oils are long chain carbon molecules found mostly in seeds and nuts. Phosphorous is the rate-limiting nutrient in the production of fruit, flower, seed and nut production. Woody tissue concentrates inorganic phosphorous and is released to the soil as chelated (“organic”) phosphorous upon breakdown by microorganisms. Organic phosphorous is highly available to plants for uptake and subsequent utilization for reproduction. Trees like kiawe mine subterranean inorganic phosphorous and sequester it in its tissues via the crebs cycle which uses ATP and ADP for energy cycling. The subterranean in-organic phosphorous is now at the surface where it can be transformed by micro-organisms into topsoil which can then be uptaken by plants with root systems closer to the soil surface. This is the key to successful, long-term production of oils in nuts like kukui and oil palms or corn for that matter. As the saying goes, “100 years of trees for one year of corn.” We will need to utilize co-crops of nitrogen fixing trees like kiawe if we are to successful recycle nutrients for biofuel production on the surface of the planet. At the beginning of the industrial revolution it is believed there was approximately 400K years of phosphorous rich topsoil accumulated by forests over centures. At the end of the industrial revolution it has been estimated that less than 100K years of available phosphorous rich soil exists on the surface of the planet. Much of that has eroded into the oceans via our logging and industrial agricultural practices. Nitrogen fixing trees are the key to rebuilding those phosphorous reserves on the surface so we may have continued successful agriculture for the long-term future.


Panini Borders and Living Succulent Firebreaks

Firebreaks and edge borders planted with Panini (Opuntia spp.) is a traditional silviculture system in tropical arid climates where Kiawe originates. This intercropping of cactus and Prosopis is quite functional with regards to cattle forage and drought tolerance. Unfortunately here in Hawaii, Panini was subject to an eradication program involving the introduction of the Cochineal beetle, which eats the Panini cactus. “Cactoblastis catorum (Australian-Uruguay strains) and Dactylopius opuntiae (Australian-Mexican strain) were effective in destroying both cac­tus varieties. These cochineal insects were released in 1949, and by 1965 some 60,000 acres of Parker Ranch rangelands were freed of most cactus. Because these cacti would be subject to intensive management and harvesting there is no concern of out break” (Dr. Billy Bergin). The cattle ranches lamented this program calling Panini a necessary evil because the edible pads were available to forage during times of drought. Total eradication did not occur and large stands of Panini still exist on the southern slope of Kohala Mountain above 2000’. The pads of these cacti are mucilaginous and therefore function similarly to Kiawe pods having slow release sugars that do not seem to exacerbate diabetic conditions. Furthermore, the fruits are delicious and nutritious. The juice of Panini fruits sells for $45 liter currently in Tucson, AZ. Here in Hawaii the fruits are difficult to obtain because competition for them is fierce. Panini wildcrafters are keen observers of the fruiting cycle so the fruits tend to disappear quicker than the novice Panini fruit harvester would like. In any case, spineless varieties of both Opuntia (the ones developed by Luther Burbank) and Nopalea are available on the island. The utilization of these strains is suggested because the pads could be harvested and pickled and the fruits picked and made into fresh juice, which would sure be popular, were it available. Both pads and fruits would be useful to diabetics. Cochineal beetle is the source of a deep purple/red dye, which retails for about $80-100 an ounce. If the beetle begins to infest the cactus in the firebreak it need just be harvested (a process made easier by the lack of spines on select varieties) and utilized as a dye for firebreak t-shirts or something.


Animal graze (cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens – biological conversion and solution to labor)

An essential portion of the fire mitigation strategy will employ animals. A successive treatment of animals will break up large chunks of wood on the ground, clear grasses, and consume fruits. This will enable foresters to move more easily through the forest as they collect and chip the wood for the second phase of the fire mitigation treatment. Cows will work well if rotated quickly. They need to pass through long enough to clear the passage for sheep and goats. Pigs come in last and are recycled throughout the system anywhere they are needed. (Under the edgeways to pick up pods or in deep forest areas to consume excess.) All other animals should be cycled through quickly. The animals need to be quarantined both before entering the forest and after leaving. Ideally, animal treatments would be confined to small well-managed plots and cycled through from plot to plot. The foresters would come in immediately after the animals have passed through each plot. The foresters will clean the ground bare of all wood and chip it or sort it for milling. The chips are either recycled directly back to the soil or loaded and hauled if they are to be removed. Once each plot has been thinned and pruned it is ready for harvesting fruits and planting intercrops.


Fungi Cultivation

          Podaxis can be cultivated in sunny areas after the fire mitigation program thins the forest and opens new holes in the canopy allowing more sunlight to the forest floor. By simply watering an area regularly, the sandy soil full of Podaxis pitillaris mycelium and spores will go into fruiting causing enormous flushes of fresh gourmet mushrooms carpeting the forest floor and edges.


Economic Assessment

“It was found that on floodplain acreage in southern Arizona, the economic value of mesquite-flavored honey and mesquite wood for fuel or furniture-making on a sustained yield basis outpriced the returns from the same land if converted to pasture for livestock grazing” (Nabhan 1987).


*General guidelines per Elevitch et al.

Cost and returns over time

Management plan = $2-10K/project or $60-100 / acre

Fencing $3-8/ft installed

Planting $1000/acre

Pest Control $200

Fert $200

Weed Control

Pruning $.5-1.5/tree

$1-2,500/acre to establish + $1,500-3,500/acre to maintain


Risk =

-          increase labor cost

-          use higher costs

-          conservative growth rates

-          increase discount rate

-          Insurance

Add protective practices


*Set up website for Puakō Forest Products


Value-Added Products

Trade Puakō residence – hardwood flooring, art, etc in trade.


1)     Lumber

2)     Firewood

3)     Mushrooms

4)     Pod Flour (Mesocarp)

5)     Seed Gum

6)     Seed Protein Concentrate (Aquaculture Food)

7)     Ethyl Alcohol (USP)

8)     Ethyl Alcohol (Biofuel)

9)     Woody Biomass (Biofuel Gasification Technology)

10)  Honey

11)  Tempeh

12)  Coconuts

13)  Bioenergy Intercrops

14)  Living Firebreak CSA

15)  Compost

16)  Mulch

17)  Nursery (Elite clones, airlayers, etc.)

18)  Propolis

19)  Pollen

20)  Mead

21)   Education/Ecotourism

22)   Aquaculture

23)   Animal Products


Wood (lumber/biofuel)

In at least 200 of the 755 acres of public land there are trees with considerable lumber potential. The wood from trees in these zones is most valuable. The harvest of the trees with non-palatable pods for lumber or fuel, and the replacement with the clonal material described above would make human food based industries possible. (Alban 2002) Wood from smaller young stands should either be chipped and returned to the soil or used in gasification boilers for generating heat and electricity locally. Wood used for biofuels needs to be harvested mechanically to be economically viable. This may be difficult over the lava. If these regions were pruned and chipped they would retain moisture and have greater nutrients to draw from. These regions could then be managed for mixed species agroforest and native plant restoration or as a mono-crop for kiawe fruit production and lumber. Irrigation would boost production considerably in these regions. Effluent from aquaculture can be used for irrigation from a high nutrient water source. “Logs from these clones should provide valuable timber for furniture and flooring. Given international prices of $850 m3 for equivalent fine timber and a Prosopis pallida density of .9 the sawn lumber could have a value of $940 per metric ton which is much greater than other products from arid lands” (Alban, 2002). “Developed countries would just have to absorb the cost of prunings from the sale of lumber at the end of the rotation. Since about 40 trees/hr can be pruned with a chain saw, less than 3 hours labor/ha would be required” (Felker and Patch 2005). ((3 X’s $25/hr  = $75) 122 ha =~$10,000 to prune 300 acres)


Community Bio-Energy

          Most of the wood should be harvested with high end use as priority. Artisan wood, lumber, flooring, posts, and firewood are of the highest value. The waste wood from lumber, flooring and posts as well as chips from pruning can all be harvested and used to provide electricity and heat for the system via wood gasification boilers. This machine could be housed in the warehouse near the Mauna Lani effluent treatment plant and the 250 kW solar array. At night when the milling operation is not in service, energy from this machine can be funnled into the electrical system for the Mauna Lani. Excess wood from the forest thinning provides energy for production by day and for the resort during the evening when the photovoltaic system is not active. The cost of electricity on the Big Island is premium. $.30+ per kWh is normal. As long as the wood comes from within a 5-mile radius the cost of generating electricity from wood is economically viable.


Chips and highgrade compost – on-site for golf course, lawns, plantings. A nursery of select varities.



Table 3. Annual Production Potentials (Biomass*)


Fresh Weight of Woody Biomass per Tree **

lbs / tree


lbs / tree


lbs / tree






kg / tree


kg / tree


kg / tree






T / tree


T / tree


t / tree





weight / acre / yr





















t /acre


t /acre


t /acre





weight / hectare / yr

Lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare






Kg / hectare


Kg / hectare


kg / hectare






t / hectare


t / hectare


t / hectare





* Biomass is highly variable depening on site, age, and density of trees

** These figures are for the Puakō Kiawe Forest, Island of Hawaii, under optimal conditions and may not apply to other sites.



1 kWh = 1 kg of wood

8,736 kg = kWh per yr

8,736 kg (2.2 lbs) = 19,219 lbs

~2,000 lbs = ~1 ton = ~1,000 kg

1kw=1.34 horsepower

1 metric ton = 1000 kg


**Hawaii Average Electricity Usage = 70.9 kWh/ft2 year

**Helco says: 6-7 kWh person/day = (6.5) 160,000 = 1,040,000 kWh for entire population per day = 379,600,000 kWh per year for entire population. 379,600,000 kg = 379,600 tons / 10 tons/acre = 37,960 acres per year. Each person needs ~ ¼ acre of kiawe to meet annual energy needs.


260 kWh per month for 4 people = 260 kg X 12 = 3,120 kg per year = 3.12 tons per year = 1/3 acre per year.


Peak energy = 6-10 pm

$.31 kWh

969-0127 HELCO


30+ kWh / day = 10,950 kWh per year = 11,000 kg = 11 tons per house per year. = 1 acre per year If switch to propane or solar hot water E usage decreases by 1/3.


**Helco says: 6-7 kWh person/day = (6.5) 160,000 = 1,040,000 kWh for entire population per day = 379,600,000 kWh per year for entire population. 379,600,000 kg = 379,600 tons / 10 tons/acre = 37,960 acres per year. Each person needs ~ ¼ acre of kiawe to meet annual energy needs. ~40,000 acres to produce enough domestic energy for Big Island. ¾-½ that if solar is used. ~300,000,000 lbs of pods would be produced from ~40,000 acres = 30,000,000 lbs of protein = 13,650,000,000 grams of protein (2,920,000,000 grams of protein needed per year for Big Island) = 4.67 times the amount of protein needed = enough protein as kiawe to produce enough fish or chicken for entire population of Big Island’s protein needs. ~400,000,000 kg of wood from ~40,000 acres = ~400,000,000 kWh electricity and 2,400,000,000,000 Btu of heat. The heat can be used for the distillation of ethl alcohol or in heat exchangers for refrigeration or more energy production via steam engine, or Stirling device.


**Need to caculate energy and food security per household…


Our house = 260 kWh per month for 4 people = 260 kg X 12 = 3,120 kg per year = 3.12 tons per year = 1/3 acre per year.


1400 ft2 * 16.75 kWh/ft2 year = 23,450 kWh year (64.25 kWh per day?) per average home from 1970 (at a cost of ~ $7,269.50 annually) = 23,450 kg per year per house / 10,000 kg/acre = 2.345 acres per house per year (160,000) = 375,200 acres per year – if each person owned their own home.

2,330 ft2 * 16.75 kWh/ft2 year = 39,028 kWh year (107 kWh per day?) per average home from 2004 (at a cost of ~ $12,098.68 annually) = 39,028 kg per year per house – 4 acres per house per year (160,000) = 624,448 acres per year – if each person owned their own home.


**The prunings from each acre of kiawe are worth ~ $3,100 annualy if used in gasification for electricity. $930,000 in electricity annually from 300 acres just from prunings!


**If all 150 residences in Puako had the same energy needs as an average home from 2004 and used only wood gasification to meet energy needs it would require 600 acres @ 10 tons per acre. This number could be cut in half if the homes are more modest in size and energy needs and can be cut in half again if each home used solar power by day to meet its energy needs.


**2,925 kWh per day for Puako residential (365) = 1,067,625 kWh annually = 1,067,625 kg annually = 1,068 tons annually (/10 tons/acre) = 107 acres annually.



**175 acres needed to run a 200 kWh Biomax system 24/7 = ~ ½ the forest annual average woody biomass production.


**Solar power used by day could cut this acreage in half. No batteries are needed. The panels provide energy by day and the gasifier provides nighttime energy.

~60W panel

Inter Island Solar = 329-7890

Vince – Jim

Above $50K for solar to meet the needs.

 $35,000 – 7,000 = $28,000

12 X 150 w panels

8-10 110 w pannels

Functional lighting is from 3-5 hours daily ~ 4 hours average of light



1kw=1.34 horsepower

1 metric ton = 1000 kg


150-hp electric motor  - 480-voltage  - 150-kilowatts - designed to operate 24/7 = 3,600kW/day = 360,000 kWh/yr


360,000 kWh/yr = 360,000 kg / yr = 400 tons of wood per yr or 40 acres of trimmings per yr MAX! (13%) to run the hammer mill all yr long.


150 hp motor = 200 kw * 24 hrs = 4,800 kw / day * 365 = 1,752,000 kw = 1,752,000 kg / 1000 kg/ton = 1,752 tons = 175 acres of wood harvest per year. (over 50% of total annual yield) – need a silo to store the wood for 1-3 yrs energy?



Honey Production Analysis

          As seen above when the forest is thinned via the fire mitigation program it will greatly enhance honey production. This is achieved because more water is focused through less trees so there is more nectar flowing through each tree. Additionally, each tree has a greater opportunity to fully express its own canopy and produce the maximum number of flowers and solar exposure. Allen Luce 2006 has predicted a 10-20-fold increase in honey production. This is an enourmous amount of honey considering the current yield from the forest is in the range of 40,000 lbs annually. It is important to consider that to achieve this level of honey production there would need to be at least a 5-fold increase in colonies in the forest and considerable fresh water made available to the bees. This may be unaccepatable to the residences and resrorts even though these bees may never pose a threat to them whatsoever.

          The honey coming from this forest is very precious and the demand currently exceeds the supply. The boosted honey production from the fire mitigation would certainly mean increased returns.  Differentiated marketing of the honey would help to sell the new influx of greater product availability. Marketing the honey, as Medi-honey, and mead would ensure that again the market exceeded the demand. To achieve this level of production, beekeeper teams will need to be trained by the current beekeeing staff of VIHC. It will probably take a few seasons to create efficient teams but in the end will result in as many as 25 well trained beekeepers for Prosopis forests. These beekeepers will be the future teachers of Prosopis beekeeping in other forests in other parts of the world – a very important skill to offer. If a native forest is desired in Puakō, Mamane may replace kiawe over time. Mamane honey is known to be of excellent quality and yields may approach at least half or equal to that of Kiawe.

          Below is the production potential table for honey in Puakō. The high end of the data set is what may be expected post fire mitigation and the low end is what is currently seen. Increased honey production translates to increased pod production and in the next section we will thoroughly examine pods.


Table 1. Annual Production Potentials (Honey*)


1 Tree = ~1 kg (2.2lbs) Honey per Year **

lbs / colony


lbs / colony


lbs / colony






kg / colony


kg / colony


kg / colony






t / colony


T / colony


t / colony





@ 41 – 162 trees / acre =





















t /acre


t /acre


t /acre





@ 100 – 400 trees / hectare

lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare






kg / hectare


kg / hectare


kg / hectare






t / hectare


t / hectare


t / hectare





* Honey = Pure Prosopis pallida Monofloral Honey

** These figures are for the Puakō Kiawe Forest (~1000 acres), Island of Hawaii, under optimal conditions and may not apply to other sites.




Pod Production Analysis


“The present kiawe forest under good management program could once again become a viable industry. The kiawe thicket should be thinned to not closer than 50 feet from each other. In the thinning process selection could be made for good fence posts while the bulk of the wood could be cut for firewood and charcoal production. The smaller pieces of charcoal and the mulch from the branches could be used by the local florist industry. With the elimination of the kiawe canopy ultimately a great increase to the honey production and the kiawe bean production will occur which would once again make both of these profitable enterprises. With the opening up of sunlight to the kiawe forest floors ultimately drought resistant grasses can once again be grown under the kiawe forest” (Luce 2006).


Economic analysis of Prosopis pod flour production in Peru and Argentina has revealed some vital statistics. Felker et al. found that 40% (.4) of the pods harvested were damaged by insects and were rejected for human food. This factor could be greatly reduced in Puakō due to the density of the forest and close proximity to the processing facility. By harvesting bi-weekly and capturing the pods in ground clothes and tarps the insects have less time to get to the pods. The theoretical yield of milled pods into flour is 60%. However, it has been found that actually 40-54% conversion of pods to final flour has been realized in Peru and Argentina. In Tuscon, AZ “Desert Harvesters” has realized 47% conversion of raw pods to finished flour (their flour contains seeds and all). Additionally, when the pods are harvested they contain roughly 13% water. To avoid clogging up the mill, the pods must first be dried to 6% moisture. Table 1 outlines the full potential of Kiawe (Prosopis pallida) pod production under optimal conditions.


Table 1. Annual Production Potentials (Pods*)

Fresh Weight of Pods per Tree **

lbs / tree


lbs / tree


lbs / tree






kg / tree


kg / tree


kg / tree






t / tree


t / tree


t / tree





@ 41 trees / acre =





















t /acre


t /acre


t /acre





@ 100 trees / hectare

Lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare


lbs / hectare






kg / hectare


kg / hectare


kg / hectare