| Piper methysticum -- 'Awa|
Awa is a shrub belonging to the Pepper family and is related to black pepper. Stems are characteristically jointed and swollen at the nodes. Leaves are dark green and heart-shaped.
Hawaiians used 'awa primarily as medicine. All parts of the plant contain a relaxant or sedative element, but the roots are the preferred concentrated source of the drug. It was used to induce sleep and to relieve fever and the pain of sore muscles.
'Awa was also used by Hawaiians in the important 'awa ceremony. In other Polynesian countries today, the kava ceremony is still actively practiced. It helps to cement relationships between groups of people or to welcome strangers.