Dick Willson Milo Box (Sold)


Out of stock


Though this box has found a home, we anticipate delivery of new work.   Please email or call if you would like to be notified when the next box arrives!

Dick Willson

Dick Willson Milo Box 3.75″ x 6.25″ x 12.75″

This stunning box was made of Milo wood during the Leilani lava flow by local artist Dick Willson on Oahu. It is sanded to a glassy smooth wax finish.

Image of a milo blossom c/o Wikipedia

From Canoe Plants of Ancient Hawaii, written by Lynton Dove White:
“It is told that the Waikiki home of Kamehameha I was surrounded by milo trees.

Although rare today, in old Hawai`i milo was a commonly found tree, cultivated as a shade plant around homes near sunny coastal areas with loose soil. It does not grow in the high inland forests.

Brought to these islands by early Polynesian settlers who carried the seeds, this fast-growing evergreen tree was planted around the temples in Tahiti, as it was said to be spiritually connected to the chant and to prayer. It is a widespread species throughout Polynesia and Micronesia, as well as in tropical Africa.

Milo’s scientific name is Thespesia populnea, and it is also known as a portia tree. A member of the Hibiscus family, the malvacceae, it is a close relative of hau, `ilima, and ma`o, Hawai`i cotton.

The bark of milo was used for cordage fiber, similarly to hau, but it is inferior in quality to hau and to olona. The tree also yields tannin, dye, oil, medicine and gum, from various parts of the plant. The milo wood was skillfully crafted into poi bowls called `umeke `ai, and into plates, too. Calabashes/bowls of kou wood were more highly prized than those of milo, and were more often used.

The milo tree is a small to medium-sized one, growing to less than 40 feet high. The trunk can be 2 feet in diameter at full maturity. The bark is corrugated, with scaly twigs. The branches are widely spread and usually horizontal, making for an ideal shade tree. The glossy heart-shaped leaves are 3-5 inches across. Young leaves are edible. Bell-shaped pale yellow flowers with maroon or purple centers turn purplish-pink as they with in their short one day hibiscus life. Following the flowering stage, the one inch diameter seeds grow in globular 5-celled woody cases that have downy hairs on their surface. These remain on the plant for sometime, and ripen only in areas of dry climate.

Milo wood has an attractive grain that takes to a high polish and, in addition to food utensils and containers, was fashioned into paddles and other carved objects, as well as for an occasional canoe, although koa was considered to be the most popular material for canoes”.

Though we update as often as possible, as this box is on display in the gallery, it can sell at any time. We welcome your call to confirm that it’s still available; we update the site often but not constantly. If this box has sold, we’ll be happy to email you photos of other work by this or any artisan as it becomes available.

Weight and measurement other than above includes packing for shipping.


Dick Willson Milo Box 3.75″ x 6.25″ x 12.75″

Additional information

Weight 12 lbs
Dimensions 19 × 12 × 10 in

Honolulu, Hawaii (808) 596-0074