Milo: Scientific name: Thespesia populnea; Family: Malvaceae
This is a tree indigenous to Hawaii, and one of the favored woods used by the early Hawaiians for wooden vessels. Not the most favorite, but one of the woods often used. The favored woods were those that tended to be neutral when in contact with food and not introduce different flavors. Milo is part of the Hibiscus family and like the Hau tree, has blossoms that are yellow in the morning but turns red-orange in the afternoon. The seeds start out green and then eventually brown. The brown seed floats in water and the trees are often seen along shorelines where the seeds germinated. Trees grown next to a waterway often have color streaks in the heartwood that are pink, lavender, and some orange. Like most woods, these colors will fade over time and the heartwood ages to a deep, rich brown–sometimes close to black.
Milo is one of my favorite woods to turn. It is fine-grained and sands smooth and silky. What is special I think is a rich tactile quality. When wet, it is fairly stable if there are no bark inclusions in the walls of the piece. Twice turning is generally recommended, but I like to turn wet to finish thickness and let the rim exhibit any movement if it will. The sapwood usually has a great contrast to the heartwood, ranging from light tan color to nearly white. In large trees there is often some kind of deterioration in the center area. Inhaling the dust from this wood or working with it can cause an allergic reaction, from sneezing to skin rash.
In the photo below, you can see the brown seed pods on the left, with a green one below and to the right. Just to the right of center is a flower–in this case yellow, as the photo was taken in the morning.