Piper methysticum

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Family name: Piperaceae
English name: kava
Pohnpeian name: sakau
Kosraean name: suhka
Yapese name: none
Chuukese name: sakaw
Location collected: Kahmar, Nett
Habitat: terrestrial, usually grow in a shady, damp area. Best grown on the mountains in Pohnpei.
Date collected: December 03, 1998
Collected by: Duane Yamaguchi
Vegetative characteristics:

Habit: shrub
Leaf shape and morphology: have a heart-shaped leaf, from 10-13 veined form the base and up to 30 cm long.
Stem type: the stem has green swollen nodes that can reach up to 10ft. long.

Floral characteristics: the male flowers are arranged in a solitary, axillary, greenish white spikes up to 6cm long. The flower arises from a axil opposite a leaf. Female flowers are unknown.

Ethnobotanical information


Pohnpei: Leaf of the sakau. If working in the forest and you cut yourself the juice from the leaf can be used to staunch the bleeding. Pound or squeeze the the leaf until the liquid comes out. Drip juice on the cut. Then cover the wound with a sakau leaf. Tie the leaf on to protect the wound.

Wrath assuasion

Sakau is a special plant on Pohnpei. Sakau is the only thing can turn aside the wrath of a king. Sakau calms things down. If offered sakau in appeasance, the king or any other person to whom it is offered must accept. Such as if you go to ask for permission to marry and the women's family does not agree with you marrying her, take sakau to the father, pound it, and offer him the cup. He must take the cup, it would be shameful to not accept the offer of sakau. "Sakau is like the only thing above [even] the king." - Jaymie Inos. Fall 2002.

First Sakau Market

Jamie Inos (Kitti): My presentation is not about the traditional uses of the sakau plant or the legend of where or who brought it to Pohnpei. But what I want to shared with you is first made of sakau market in Pohnpei. The first person that make sakau market is from the kingdom of Kitti. His name is Beno Serilo. Mr. Serilo is from a community of Wene in the village of (Oaloapoal). He planted sakau all over his land as dream for making a sakau bar in the future. He started sakau bar in the year 1973 for 15 cents for each foam cup. So he was given a certificate from the state government for creating a great idea for all the farmers on the island. So in a this great idea that he made was pass for generations and will still pass on until until there will be no more sakau on this island. So now most people are using sakau market as their life nowadays. 06 December 2002