Kava (Fijian: Yaqona)

Piper methysticum (Piperaceae)

 

Characteristics

A clumping shrub with growth up to 2.5 meters tall, Kava thrives In loose well drained soils where plenty of air reaches the roots, needing high rainfall and humidity, It Is an understory plant, sensitive to sunlight and not salt tolerant. It cannot reproduce sexually with female flowers being extremely rare, they do not produce fruit even when hand pollinated.

Distribution

Thought to have originated from Vanuatu and descended from Papua New Guinea, Kava Is found In Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesian Islands.

Natural Medical Properties

Used to treat anxiety it is also excellent for improving the quality of sleep and as a mild euphoric. Known as “Yaqona”, it has been used for centuries as a sacred offering in traditional ceremonies. Only the non-aerial parts of the plants are consumed after being dried and pounded.

Did you know?

Clinical randomized controlled trials have proven the anxiolytic properties of kavalactones as psychoactive compounds for the treatment of generalised anxiety. the name Piper methysticum means “intoxicating pepper”.

Closely related (same genus) to “Black Pepper” (Piper nigrum).

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species