Kōjbar (Neisosperma oppositifolium - Apocynaceae)

Description: Kōjbar is a tree species that can vary greatly in size, growing to a maximum height of 15 m (50 ft) or more. Kōjbar produces many fragrant, white, five-petalled flowers with yellow centers. The fruit comes in pairs, is elliptical in shape, and is about 5-8 cm (2-3 in) long.

Distribution: This indigenous tree is quite widespread in many tropical island coastal forests from the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific, including all major island groups in Micronesia except Kiribati. It was probably much more common in the Marshall Islands in the past, especially prior to the arrival of humans in these remote islands. Indeed, kōjbar was an important component of the forests in the interiors of islets in the Marshall Islands. Kōjbar is found growing among many other species, but it also occurs in almost pure stands on some islets. Such single-species (mono-specific) forest types are common only in temperate and colder climates not found in the Marshall Islands. Single-species forests, such as those of kōjbar, are probably the result of stressful environmental conditions (recurrent high winds, seismic wave or tsunami destruction, etc.) that eliminate species less able to cope with servere environmental conditions. The ground under these single-species forests is commonly covered by a dense stand of kōjbar seedlings about 10-20 cm (4-8 in) tall, apparently growing quite slowly, if at all.

Uses: The soft wood of kōjbar can be used only for light construction and firewood. Leaves are used to cover the earth oven (um). The wafer-like seed is edible, but is consumed only infrequently, mainly by children, or when there is a lack of food. The bark is used to treat diabetes. To relieve sore body parts (e.g., arthritis), 3 green and 3 yellow leaves are pounded, then mixed with grated coconut meat and water, and squeezed in a tub of water for a therapeutic bath. Parts of kōjbar are also used medicinally as an energizer, and the fragrant flowers are used in perfumes, deodorants, and leis.

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