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  Persistent Taro, Bok
From: maurice major <mmajor at bishop.bishop.hawaii.org> on 1997.04.16 at 13:28:28(626)
Thanks for the replies. I am glad to see the interest in edible aroids. (The
plants I find most beautiful are the ones that end up on my plate, or in my
poi bowl.)

Regarding the bac/bok meaning, it is nice to have Chen's input. I was
thinking of won bok and bok choy, and jumped to the conclusion that bok
meant leafy vegetable. Wrong--just ignorant, however, I am not a bok
supremacist :-). Ung Choy and Gai Choy are other edible greens commonly
grown here.

Julius inquired about Cyrtosperma cultivation in Hawai`i. To hear
archaeologists tell it, only Colocasia and Alocasia were cultivated here
prior to contact with non-Polynesians. Some of you may recall several months
ago when I inquired about empirical data regarding prehistoric
districbutions of aroids. What I found is that there is pretty much no
archaeological proof of what genera/species/varieties were present. Almost
everything regarding distributions is based on ethno-historic accounts.
Cyrtosperma, in this framework, is considered to be a cultivar of
Micronesia--it is one of the few food crops that does well on atolls. Not
that there is no Cyrtosperma habitat here...

What I find very interesting is that taro is persistent culturally. In the
native cultural renaissance that has been going on here for the past couple
decades, cultivation of taro is central, and there are many who make a
living doing so today, over 200 years after Captain Cook first showed up
here. "Fish and Poi" is still the saying for Hawaiian staple food. I have to
go to the store early Saturday morning to be able to buy poi, because it is
so popular. In other words, there are a few hundred thousand avid aroiders
here in Hawai`i.


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