Cultural practitioners scramble to save limu as it faces new threats in a warmer world

Limu is a staple on Hawaii tables, but it's under threat.
Limu is a staple on Hawaii tables, but it's under threat.(University of Hawaii)
Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 1:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Limu, a staple on Hawaii tables, is starting to disappear.

Conservationists say climate change and improper harvesting are impacting limu supplies.

But a new University of Hawaii project aims to preserve limu, in part by integrating into cultural practices and giving it Hawaiian names.

Non-profit organization Kuaaina Ulu Auamo recently reached out to Hawaiian language students at UH-Manoa to translate common characteristics that are associated with limu.

The idea: Give different kinds of limu Hawaiian names that speak to how they look, smell and taste.

There are more than 500 species of limu in Hawaii that do not have a Hawaiian name.

“I think it’s great that our cultural practitioners are wanting to incorporate the Hawaiian language into their practices," said UH Manoa senior Ekolu Nakamaejo.

“They’re bringing together the community through the Hawaiian culture, and to be able to do that through the Hawaiian language is very valuable.”

Wally Ito, coordinator for a group called Limu Hui, said losing limu isn’t just bad for the environment. It’s bad for people’s health.

In old Hawaii, limu was considered a treatment for a number of ailments, including for women who had a hard time conceiving and for children who had mouth sores.

Limu Hui began in 2014 to gather and network with other limu practitioners and restore limu knowledge, practice, and abundance.

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