The Ti plant sends up many slender stems topped with a whorl of glossy, medium to dark green leaves. The elongated leaves have a noticeable waxy coating which gives them a shine and adds to their usefulness.
The cut stem, tipped with a swirl of leaves, was the original "kahili" which marked a beach area where fishing was kapu (forbidden) or places otherwise restricted. Ki branches were carried in front of traveling 'ali'i to warn the commoner to stay away so their shadow would not accidentally fall on the ali'i, an act punishable by death.
Ki was planted around the house to ward off evil spirits. The leaves dipped into water and sprinkled over people/places brought about their consecration in blessing ceremonies.
Ki was used medicinally in several ways. Leaves dipped in cool water and applied to the skin, helped to cool a fevered body. Leaves wrapped in hot stones would treat sore backs. Leaves variously prepared were used to treat nose growths and asthma.
Ki root could be baked and eaten as treat because of its high sugar content. Juice from the root was later fermented to make a local alcoholic drink, under tutelage of sailors, called "okolehao." It produced undesirable effects when used at the same time with awa.