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Discover the Rich Legacy of the Kukui Tree at Grove Farm

Celebrating Native Hawaiian Plant Month: The Kukui Tree's Deep Roots in Grove Farm's History

In April 2023, Governor Josh Green, M.D. officially designated April as Native Hawaiian Plant Month, spotlighting Hawai'i's rich botanical heritage. One of the native species endemic to the islands, the kukui tree (candlenut tree, Aleurites moluccana), holds a special place in the heart of Grove Farm.

Historically, the area now known as Puhi was blanketed with vast groves of Kukui trees. Grove Farm previously ran a mill dedicated to processing kukui nut oil, leveraging the plentiful supply of nuts in the area. In addition to kukui, the plantation cultivated lychee, pineapple, macadamia nuts, and ti leaf before focusing exclusively on sugar production.

The transition to sugar began when Judge Herman Widemann acquired the land from James Marshall and cleared it to contribute to the island’s burgeoning sugar economy.

Brought to Hawaiʻi by Polynesian voyagers over a millennium ago, the kukui tree is important in Hawaiian culture and is celebrated for its utility and versatility. The oil extracted from its nuts provided potent fuel for lighting lamps. Fishermen, hindered by the sun's glare on the water, found a unique use for the oil, chewing the nuts and spitting the oil on the water's surface to improve the visibility of hukilau nets or traps.

Beyond its oil, the kukui tree provided wood for crafting canoes and tools, while its sap was used to create waterproof materials. The nut meat, known as ʻinamona, was a culinary ingredient, and the nuts themselves were crafted into leis or used medicinally as a laxative.

For those with enough space, a well-maintained kukui tree is a perfect addition to your yard for shade. However, it can swiftly reach up to 60 feet without regular care. Let’s celebrate Native Hawaiian Plant Month by appreciating the critical role of plants like the kukui in Hawaiian culture and the ecology of our islands.

Spring Into the Grove Farm Market and Craft Fair this Saturday!

This weekend marks the eagerly awaited return of the Grove Farm Market and Craft Fair. We're thrilled to announce that new vendors will be making their debut. We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to enjoy the festivities!

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the County of Kaua‘i Department of Water booth for advice on beautifying your lawn and garden while conserving water and using native plants!

Native Hawaiian Plant Month-Inspired Recipe: ‘Ulu Chips

Ulu, also known as breadfruit, was introduced in Hawai‘i by the voyaging Polynesians more than 1,000 years ago. It is known for its rapid ripening process. Given its rich and dense texture, one can enjoy only so much cooked ‘ulu in one sitting. To prevent this exquisite fruit from going to waste, consider making fried green ulu chips. A green ulu is ripe for harvesting when sap has dripped and dried on the fruit, with the skin starting to turn yellow with brown patches. Should you find any soft spots, the ulu is beyond its prime.


  • Green ‘ulu (breadfruit), ready to cook – we prefer the Maʻafala variety, commonly found in Hawaiʻi
  • Deep frying oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt


  1. Begin by peeling the green ulu. Slice the ‘ulu into large chunks with a sharp knife, carefullyremoving the central core and any seeds.
  2. Soak the ‘ulu chunks in water for approximately one hour to eliminate residual sap.
  3. Using a mandoline slicer, thinly slice the ‘ulu into even pieces in a large bowl. Aim for thin slices to achieve the crispiest chips.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep fryer and fry the ‘ulu slices until they achieve a golden-brown hue andbecome crisp.
  5. Remove the chips and drain them on a paper towel-lined foil pan to remove excess oil.
  6. While still warm, lightly season the chips with a blend of garlic powder and salt to taste.
  7. Allow the chips to cool completely before storing them in plastic bags.

Recipe submitted by our very own Sharyl Lam Yuen!