Flowers in Maui
Of all the many types of flowers in Hawaiʻi the diversity that grows on Maui is a massive collection sure to impress even the most educated botanist. There are many that most people recognize with ease. From the lily and rose to the always popular exotic tropicals, pretty much everything grows easily on Maui. Numerous tropicals from all over the world and even the more highly specialized flowers like protea from Africa and Australia can be found here. Because Maui has 17 of the 20 known worldwide climate zones, there is always an area to grow just about any kind of flower that exists. In addition to this are our many flower farms and nurseries which supply resorts with fresh flowers daily and also ship Maui’s finest flora all over the world.
As a professional photographer in Maui for close to 20 years I have always been on the lookout for unique flowers to photograph. Many times I have photographed flowers that are so unique they are difficult to identify. The reason for this is because they sometimes cross pollinate or adapt to Maui in such a way as to be unique even among their own kind. Since it would take an entire book to explain all of the varieties, I’ll try and keep it to the most common and widely seen species on the island.
Bird of Paradise
You’ll see these everywhere on Maui. They are typically found in bouquets and floral arrangements seen placed in the entrances, sitting areas and deluxe rooms of larger resorts and hotels. It is also commonly found in local Hawaiian landscaping located at warm, dry sea level areas like Kihei and Lahaina. It’s long stems suspend the blossoms 3 to 4 feet into the air. They have no smell and last for as much as a week or more after being cut.
This plant has a huge number of variations and is probably the most useful of all flower species on Maui. It is used as a main ingredient in many Hawaiian dishes and grows very prolifically in all areas. The blossoms have no smell until they are squeezed in the palm of your hand, which releases a very fragrant, candy-like smell. A variety grown primarily in Hana called ‘Awapuhi Ginger is a main ingredient in many shampoos. It grows so well here that some landscapers in Hawaiʻi dislike them because once established they are very difficult to get rid of.
These are some of the most stunning tropicals grown in Maui. They are one of my favorites. Because they come in so many shapes, sizes and colors it’s sometimes hard to believe they are the same species. They like to bloom in the shadow of their own leaves which can make them a challenge to spot in dense foliage but they can be seen growing wild in the rainforests of Hana.
Not many species of flowers are more associated with Hawaiʻi than Hibiscus. It is because most tropical flower species grown in Hawaiʻi are not native whereas there are 7 Hibiscus regarded as Hawaiian natives, comprised of 5 endemic and 2 indigenous. The Yellow Hawaiian Hibiscus is the state flower. These large blooms, (often 4 to 6 inches in diameter), are the only yellow native but are not commonly seen. More often than not the Hibiscus planted around Maui are the hybrid species. They grow as large bushes with older plants reaching 15 feet tall. You’ll not only see them in resort landscaping but also in many yards. They bloom year around and shed leaves slowly which is one reason why landscapers love them. They have no smell but the hybrid type have endless color variations with many of them being one-of-a- kinds.
These hearty plants originate in South Africa and are one of the oldest flowers in the world dating back 100 million years. The climate and soil conditions at around the 2000 to 3000 ft elevation of Kula, (also known as “Upcountry Maui”) on the western slopes of Haleakala are ideal for these plants. They were first propagated here in the mid 1970’s. Since then they have become a major industry on the island as the large blooms are shipped worldwide. The types of blooms are so diverse it’s hard to believe they are the same species. Donning names like King, Dutchess, Mink, Pincushion and Banksia, they are made into stunning bouquets. These flowers are very long lasting with strong, wood like stems. Here is some interesting flora trivia: Macadamia nuts are also a type of protea!
In addition to all of these amazing flowers in Maui are flowering trees. The Plumeria, African Tulip, Royal Poinciana, Jacaranda and the native Ohia are just a sampling of the flowering trees you can find growing on Maui. They add an amazing amount of color to an already lush array of ground level flowers and vibrant, colorful shrubs like Bougainvillea.
Many of these species do best in hot, dry climates of Kihei and Lahaina areas. However, a great place to see a large variety of flowers, shrubs and flowering trees all in one place is Hana.
There are so many kinds of flowers in Maui that you can spend days just looking around to find all these different kinds. One spot to check out that has nice collection of flowers in one place is Maui Tropical Plantation. There are several here that I haven’t mentioned like Orchids and Bromeliads. It’s a great location because they can answer your questions about the plants and flowers in Hawaiʻi. Hope this information helps and don’t forget to take notes as you take pictures. It comes in handy when people say “Hey that’s a beautiful flower photo! What is it”?
Enjoy – Aloha Nui Loa