Poisonous seaweed, 1877.


Dear Mr. Editor: Aloha oe:—

Please allow me to talk about some matters dealing with the poisonous limu of Muolea in Hana, East Maui.

In ancient times, it did not grow profusely like it does now, and the kamaaina living near those tide pools didn’t know this was poisonous, however, this is what is known; When the children went to those tide pools and gathered the small fish [ohua] and ate them, if they ate a lot of the ohua, they grew dizzy and lay unconscious by the tide pools, and after being given medicine, they revived.

Later, a man from Honaunau in Kona, Hawaii arrived, and it was he that found that this was poisonous. After all the sweet potato was eaten by the pigs, he fetched some of the limu and smeared it over sweet potato and when the pigs ate again, they died, and not one of them lived. If dogs came and licked the vomit of the dead pig, the dogs died as well; it is from this that the limu was known to be poisonous, for that limu grows in Honaunau, Hawaii as well.

If you grab the limu with your fingers, your fingers will rot and fall off.

The proper thing to do is to prod at it with a stick, and if it sticks to the stick, place it in ti leaves or taro leaves [?].

When that limu is touched, it shrinks and wilts, somewhat like sleeping grass [pua hilahila wale]. It is not long like the other limu, but when you look at it, it somewhat resembles the suckers of an octopus.

On some sacred nights of the year, a red light is seen from those places.

In the year 1841 perhaps, those tide pools were paved over with rocks, but these days, they are growing wild again and is spreading.

The fish that go around that place, they don’t die, but should you eat the fish from those tide pools, you will end up dying.

This is a strong poison taking effect immediately, similar to the powerful poisons of the haole, and perhaps even stronger.

For this reason, the locals of that place have restricted access to that place, not allowing anyone without authority to go there.

With appreciation to the typesetting boys of the press and to the Editor goes my aloha.

Abraham Kauhi.

Muolea, Hana, Aug. 11, 1877.

[The image of this article is very hard to read. The original newspapers need to be rescanned before it is too late!]

(Lahui Hawaii, 8/23/1877, p. 2)


Ka Lahui Hawaii, Buke III, Helu 34, Aoao 2. Augate 23, 1877.

2 thoughts on “Poisonous seaweed, 1877.

  1. Mahalo nui for transcribing this and other articles. I am a graduate student at UHM studying zoanthids and interested in the story behind Palythoa toxica (limu make o hana). Reading this information was extremely exciting for me and thankful you had a chance to subscribe it. Please contact me if you come across any other information like this in your translations.
    Mahalo again, great work with this website.

  2. Mahalo for the efforts in translating this article. I founded the Waihe’e Limu Restoration on Maui to address the steady declining of Hawaii’s native limu. Any information on Hawaii’s limu helps to further the work I’m doing to restore and maintain Hawaii’s native limu for generations to come. Mahalo awesome work.

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