The revival of taro biodiversity in Hawaii, in film

This just in from a reader in Hawaii. Thanks, Penny.

The film short “Na Ono o Ka Aina; Delicacies of the Land” featuring Jerry Konanui, a Hawaiian, expert in the identification of traditional Hawaiian taro cultivars, and an inspiration in their recovery. This film is the work of award winning Hawaii-based filmmakers, Na Maka o Ka Aina. The film garnered awards at the Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Hawaii film festivals in 2009 and 2010, and the short was featured on National Geographic’s “All Roads Film Festival” in 2008. One way to protect local crop biodiversity — reinspire everyone — from farmers to researchers to students; especially within the community that once created that diversity. It’s in the numbers; the more old cultivars we recover and grow and the more who grow, the less risk of loss we will have. You can get a taste of the film short — and the ono (delicious) taros of Hawaii below.

4 Replies to “The revival of taro biodiversity in Hawaii, in film”

  1. Cool video, wonder how you go about seeing the rest of it. By the way, that initial still looks like a severe case of dasheen mosaic potyvirus.

  2. You can find a copy of the video from Na Maka O Ka Aina through their website The full version is called “Malama Haloa.”

    That initial picture is not DMV. The taro variety is the beautiful Piko Lehua Api’i. The undersides of its leaves have stiff ruffles that create the dark and light pattern.

  3. Thanks Penny for the information on the video. Just out of interest do you know if samples of such leaves have ever been tested for DMV? I once came across similar types of leaf colouring and curling on taro in the Maldives, which was documented as a particular variety which we diagnosed with DMV. But that was an awful long time ago.

  4. Varying levels of DMV symptoms are common in taro in Hawaii. It comes and goes and isn’t particularly damaging to any one cultivar over another from my observations. Some researchers have suggested varieties such as Lehua maoli have greater resistance, but I would suspect it has as much to do with the quality of the soil and water (in wetland cultivation) as with presence in the plant. That said, testing positive for DMV doesn’t rule out the curling characteristics that might have been natural to the Maldives taro you observed. Rest assured, the frills and dark-light patterning on the bottom of Piko Lehua Api’i leaves are natural to this Hawaiian taro variety, whether it may have DMV or not. I’d be curious to see pictures of that Maldives taro or to know its history or cultural stories – true under-leaf ruffles are an unusual trait in Colocasia esculenta.

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