The Mythical Plant: Kalo

Abstract: A mythical plant that is known as Kalo in Hawaiin but as Taro in English. This plant is named after mother earth known as Papa and the Sky Father Wakea which are two of the most important entities in Hawaii. This planet is a great delicacy for the people of the island and is known as the Polynesian people’s most diverse plant since it was able to feed all ages. The story of the son of the two deities was Kalo in fact and he was stillborn so his parents decided to bury him in the ground. The burial of their sun brought his mother to tears which hit the soil where he was buried and a plant began to grow where he was buried. 

Background: DM is a student at the University of Southern California who is a native Hawaiin and grown up with many Hawaiin tales to explain how her place of living came to be. She finds great interest in the history of her island She grew up her entire life in Hawaii and with that, has heard a lot of folklore. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember when she first heard these stories After reading about famous Hawaiin Folklore, I saught to ask her about what she knows about her Island and its origins. 


P: So tell me about some of the foods or ingredients of the food that you think is significant.

DM: There is a plant that many Hawaiin finds to be important and also used in many delicacies, Kalo. Kalo is the origin of Hawaiin culture it feels like such as there is this lau lau where people roast a pig that is wrapped in Kalo leaves. If you pull the Kalo plant from the ground its root is very nutritious and used to make this paste known as Poi and its purple. This plant has a bigger significance than just being a widely used ingredient, its also named after the children of two entities which are Mother Earth and the Sky Father, Papa, and Wakea. They have some kids and one of them is named Kalo and this child died right when he was born which is so sad. Papa then buried the child and cried after she finished burying Kalo. From her tears, it added nutrients to the soil, and the plant known as Kalo grew. 


Kalo is the physical incarnation of nature and being a person of the earth. This myth shows the importance of Nature to the Hawaiin and how they personify all of its elements in an effort to protect nature. This is mainly shown with the connection between Kalo the son being born from the two deities of nature and being the main source of food for the Hawaiin’s. This story has the theme of giving as the deity of earth Kalo used her son to produce a powerful substance to feed the people of Hawaii and also present a symbol of nature to them. One could say that true Hawaiin values nature over most in order to preserve the Islands they live and the deities who protect them and the Island they inhabit. For more on the legend of Kalo, you can read this article: Scroggins, Dan. “The Hawaiian Creation Legend and Taro.” The Real Hawai’i, 10 Mar. 2016,