10 Iconic Hawaiian Tropical Flowers And Their Meanings - Travel Pixy (2024)

Hawaiian Tropical Flowers And What They Mean

Many of us have fantasies about Hawai’i’s white sand beaches, coconut trees, and, of course, the idea of being greeted with a lovely flower lei. A lei is a true symbol of aloha in Hawai’i because it represents love, friendship, and celebration. The tropical flowers of Hawai’i, with their lovely hues, alluring scents, and delicate petals, in many ways capture the grace and beauty of the Hawaiian way of life. Did you know that many of our favorite flowers have unique symbolism and meanings? That is correct! The most popular flowers in Hawaii have meanings that add to their significance.

Table of Contents

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Let’s start with the stunning hibiscus. The hibiscus is well-known for being the state flower of Hawaii. There is no doubt that you have encountered hibiscus while exploring if you have ever been there. They are available in a variety of hues, including red, yellow, pink, and even purple. The hibiscus is widely worn by the locals because it is recognized as a symbol of joy and beauty. According to legend, a woman is said to be taken or married if she wears the flower behind her left ear, and single or available if she wears it behind her right ear.

The infamous plumeria flower will now be discussed. Plumerias are loved all over the world because their trees occasionally have hundreds of fragrant blossoms. The plumeria is available in a wide range of colors and sizes, just like the hibiscus. Due to their shape and lovely fragrance, plumerias are frequently used to make lei. They stand for hope and fresh starts. Additionally, they might be given as a good luck charm.

If you’re ever trying to spread the Aloha spirit, try giving someone a tropical flower that has special meaning to you. Many Native Hawaiian flowers have symbolic meanings.

10 Iconic Hawaiian Tropical Flowers That Will Make You Think of Hawaii

Many tourists exclaim, “It smells like flowers,” as soon as they step off the plane and take a breath of Hawaii. These ten symbols of the Islands’ romance and tropical beauty—even though not all of them are native—are flowers.

1. Plumeria

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The ubiquitous plumeria is one of the flowers that most people associate with Hawaii, despite the fact that the plants are not native to the state. The soft, velvety flower, which has an alluring sweet scent, is frequently worn over the ear to signify one’s relationship status (being “taken” on the left, closest to the heart, and single on the right).

The plumeria was brought to the Islands by a German botanist in 1860, and it flourished in Hawaii’s tropical climate and volcanic soil, giving rise to several varieties that are only found there. Sailors and later other travelers had a common tradition of tossing plumeria lei into the water as their ship passed Diamond Head during World War II. They would come back if the lei floated ashore. They wouldn’t be returning if it floated in the direction of the ship.

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In honor of the fallen, visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial frequently throw individual plumeria petals into the water.

In addition to plumeria trees lining Hawaii’s highways, encircling hotels and public buildings, and growing naturally along the island’s coastlines and numerous Oahu trails, you can also find plumeria used to make lei at island airports.

2. Hawaiian Hibiscus

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The yellow hibiscus, also referred to as the pua mao hau hele or hibiscus brackenridgei, is the state flower of Hawaii. The hibiscus was designated as the official flower of the territory of Hawaii in 1923, but it was unclear which variety it belonged to. Prior to Hawaii’s Legislature designating the yellow hibiscus as the state flower in 1988, many residents thought the native red hibiscus was the official flower. For this reason, the red hibiscus may occasionally be identified as the state flower in older photographs.

There are two indigenous and five endemic hibiscus species that are known to be native to Hawaii. The beautiful flower’s growers created distinctive hybrids over time, giving Hawaii’s current array of colors and sizes. Koko Head Botanical Garden on the island of Oahu is a good location to see a number of these varieties. On Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the island of Hawaii, as well as in the yards of hibiscus enthusiasts, you can find the state flower above sea level. However, if you see one in the wild, please don’t pick it because they are an endangered species in their natural habitat. Fun fact: Hibiscus flowers almost every day, but they only last a day or two.

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3. Bird of Paradise

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Does this flower come to mind when you think of the tropics?

This iconic perennial, originally from South Africa, is now very well-liked in Hawaii, especially for cut flower arrangements because of its long-lasting blooms and exotic colors. Its blooms resemble a tropical bird taking flight.

Georgia O’Keefe, a well-known floral artist, spent time in Hawaii in the 1940s and painted “White Bird of Paradise,” one of her most well-known pieces from this time.

The popular Akaka Falls trail on Hawaii Island and the Road to Hana on Maui are just two of the popular waterfall hikes in Hawaii where you can find Bird of Paradise.

4. Pikake

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Hawaii’s beloved Princess Kaiulani preferred the Hawaiian name for jasmine, pikake, which translates to “peaco*ck,” and named the flower after her preferred bird. One of Hawaii’s distinguishing scents is that of pikake.

When making a pikake lei, buds—rather than fully bloomed flowers—are typically woven together in order to create a “rope lei.” Brides, hula dancers, and distinguished guests frequently don these fragrant, delicate lei.

5. Ohia Lehua

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The resilient, vividly colored Ohia Lehua is regarded as the first plant to emerge on bare lava flows following a volcano eruption. Five species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, and the red lehua flower is Hawaii Island’s official flower. Perhaps this explains why Pele, the volcano goddess, is frequently mentioned in the Hawaiian legend associated with this flower. The narrative goes as follows: The volcano goddess once had a thing for a handsome man by the name of Ohia. Ohia, however, declined her because he was in love with Lehua, another woman. Pele was so enraged that she changed him into a twisted, gnarled tree with ashy bark. Lehua begged the gods to change him back, but they chose a compromise rather than displeasing Pele. To ensure that the lovers would always be together, they changed Lehua into a blossom on the ohia tree. According to legend, if you remove a Lehua flower from its tree, it will soon begin to rain—the lovers’ tears at being parted—thereafter.

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Although it is rarely used today, ohia wood was a very significant hardwood in Native Hawaiian culture. It was employed in the construction of homes as well as canoe decks, seats, and gunwales. The flowers were frequently used to make lei or to adorn hula altars. The young red leaves and the bark were both used medicinally. These lovely flowers can be found on all of the major Hawaiian islands, mainly at higher elevations.

6. Naupaka

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These flowers, which are native to the Hawaiian Islands, are prized for both their delightful scent and the unusual shape of their blooms, which gives the impression that one-half of the flower is missing. A Hawaiian legend provides an explanation for the occurrence: Naupaka, a stunning Hawaiian princess, fell in love with a commoner whom she was forbidden from wedlock. An old wise man advised them to pray and seek advice from the priest at a remote heiau (temple). The priest informed them that there was nothing he could do after they had traveled for days to get to the temple. Naupaka tore the white flower in half after losing her temper and removing it from her hair. She gave her lover one half of the flower and instructed him to go back to the beach while she remained in the mountains. That explains why there are two distinct varieties of the naupaka plant—one that grows on the beach and the other in the mountains—and why they both resemble only half of a flower.

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These fragrant flowers can be found growing wild on the beaches and hiking trails of all the Islands, as well as at locations like the Honolulu Zoo, Ala Moana Park, and Sandy Beach on Oahu. The more delicate “female” mountain naupaka has more of a fragrance than the “male” beach variety.

7. Heliconia

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One of the big tropical flowers with colorful, attention-grabbing blooms is the heliconia. Hawaii is home to a number of species, the two most prevalent of which are frequently called “lobster claws.”

Originating in Central and South America are these species. Many Heliconia species are distinguished by their tall, upright flowers, while others have more drooping flowers. Hawaii’s heliconia are typically bright red and resemble lobster claws in appearance, hence the name.

8. Hinahina

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Another lovely flower found in Hawaii is the hinahina. This delicate white flower has unusual, succulent-like green leaves. These stunning flowers are frequently used in leis and are quite lovely. The island of Kaho’olawe’s official flower is the hinahina.

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On the beach and in other places with sandy soils, you can frequently see the flower growing. It can even flourish close to lava! It is believed that Hinahina takes its name from the Hawaiian goddess Hina, who stands for development and procreation.

9. Koʻoloaʻula

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One of the most beautiful tropical flowers to be found in Hawaii is the kooloaula, or Abutilon menziesii. This gorgeous flower, which is indigenous to the islands, has a bright red exterior and a delicate yellow center. This species can also be found to have pink, purple, and white flowers.

When visiting Lanai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, be sure to respect this species as it is another that is critically endangered.

10. Anthurium

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In Hawaii, you can always find a lot of anthurium flowers. Because of their heart-like shape and vivid color, they are sometimes referred to as the Heart of Hawaii. Another lovely non-native flower, it blooms profusely all over the islands of Hawaii.

Obake Anthurium is a hybrid with large, heart-shaped green and red flowers that was first discovered in the Hawaiian islands. They can be viewed on the islands and are quite distinctive and lovely.

FAQs about Hawaiian Tropical Flowers

What is the most popular flower in Hawaii?

Plumerias are the most well-liked tropical flowers in Hawaii. They are also present on all of the Hawaiian islands!

What is the rarest flower in Hawaii?

The Kooloaula flower is one of Hawaii’s rare tropical plants. It resembles a hibiscus flower and is in danger of extinction.

What flowers originated from Hawaii?

Numerous rare Hawaiian flowers are indigenous to the islands. Tropical Hawaiian flowers that are indigenous to the islands include the Hawaiian Hibiscus, Hina Hina, and Ohia Lehua.

Wrap Up With Hawaiian Tropical Flowers

Hawaii’s tropical flowers are a stunning and distinctive sight to behold. They enhance the enjoyment of your trip to Hawaii and serve as symbols of the exotic beauty and rich culture of the Hawaiian islands.

Topic: 10 Iconic Hawaiian Tropical Flowers That Will Make You Think of Hawaii

Join the“I Left My Heart in Hawaii”in Our Community on Facebook. A place where members can be honest with each other, share their stories and travel photos, and try out a new way to see Hawaii together.

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By:Travel Pixy

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10 Iconic Hawaiian Tropical Flowers And Their Meanings - Travel Pixy (2024)

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