What is your favorite tropical flower?
Here in Hawaii, our warm moist climate makes an ideal place to grow beautiful flowers from around the world. Many of these beautiful flowers grow wild, no longer content in the limited domain of the yards of our residents. Paradise just wouldn’t be the same without the incredible island flower fragrances – and here are some of our favorite flowers.
The fragrant Plumeria is a favorite in lei making
The fragrant Plumeria tree is a popular lawn decoration here in the islands and can be found in a variety of colors including white, yellow, pink and the more rare deep red. The Plumeria or Frangipani is native to the Caribbean, South and Central America and was brought to Hawaii by German Botanist Dr. William Hillebrand around 1860. A popular Polynesian custom is to wear the flower over the ear to signify one’s relationship status. Over the left ear means you are taken and over the right ear means you are single.
The King Protea is one of the most exotic looking flowers on the planet measuring up to 6 inches across. Brought here from Australia & South America the King Protea grows easily on the upcountry slopes of Haleakala. The flower is usually a pink color but can also be red and is very popular for gift arrangements. There are several protea farms in Maui including Proteas of Maui and Anuhea Flowers that can ship your special arrangement to other Hawaiian Islands or to the Mainland.
Parrot’s Beak Heliconia
The Parrot’s Beak Heliconia is one of many types of heliconia found throughout the world and has also been called the Parakeet flower, Parrot’s Flower, or Popokaytongo. Native to Central & South America, over 22 species can now be found in Hawaii. The small & colorful flowers are pollinated in elsewhere in the world by hummingbirds. There are no hummingbirds in Hawaii, so the earwig helps to do this job, earning it many points in our book.
The colorful hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii and the national flower of South Korea, Haiti & Malaysia. It is a favorite in many gardens in Hawaii and can be used to make tea. The bright flower comes in many colors and each Hawaiian Island is represented by a different color.
- Niihau – Pupu Shell – White
- Kauai – Mokihana (Green Berry) – Purple
- Oahu – Ilima -Yellow
- Maui – Lokelani (Pink Cottage Rose) – Pink
- Molokai – White Kukui Blossom – Green
- Lanai – Kaunaoa (Yellow and Orange Air Plant) – Orange
- Kahoolawe – Hinahina (Beach Heliotrope) – Grey
- Big Island of Hawaii – Lehua Ohia – Red
For such a tiny flower, the Tuberose (Kupaloke) packs a mighty sweet punch. These small fragrant flowers are native to Mexico and are popular in leis as well as lotions, perfumes and candles.
Orchids are another very popular to flower to grow, not only in Hawaii but many other parts of the world as well. Entire clubs have been organized to show and award prize plants. Here in Hawaii you may often see orchids decorating resort lobbies. The purple orchid is a favorite for leis at luaus and other special occasions.
The Red Ginger plant is found in many places in Hawaii and elsewhere in the world. It is known as bokkepoot or teulia in Samoa where it is the national flower. While not an edible type of ginger, this fragrant plant can be used for leis and are extremely popular in flower arrangements as they will sometimes last for a couple weeks.
These are just a few of the flowers introduced to Hawaii. We recommend a visit to the Maui Tropical Plantation where daily tours are offered to educate guests on local vegetation. See you among the flowers!