Flowers Of Hawaii
Hawaiian Flowers – Native & Non-Native Flowering Plants
Few flowers hold the allure of Hawai’i more than the plumeria. The huge varieties found throughout the islands make it seem as though they originated here, but in truth they are an introduced species. First discovered in the southern forest regions of Mexico in the mid 1800’s, the plant is also known to indigenous to Central America, India, the Caribbean and Brazil.
The first plants were brought to Hawai’i in 1860 by Wilhelm Hillebrand, a German physician and botanist. In Hawai’i the plant usually grows as a small tree that mostly blooms from April to November. Flowers do not last long but the bloom pod can produce flowers throughout the year depending on climate and location. The flower colors are diverse in Maui and include white, orange, yellow, pink, salmon, and purple with hybrids containing combinations of all these colors. Plumeria have an amazing fragrance that is most intense at night as they lure moths needed to pollinate them. Interestingly enough they produce no nectar, effectively duping the pollinators to move from flower to flower in a fruitless search for nectar.
The flowers are well known for their use in making flower lei. These beautiful and fragrant flowers can also be worn in the hair by women to indicate their relationship status – over the right ear if single and over the left ear if taken.
Plumeria are used in lei making across much of the south Pacific including Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
According to the American Plumeria society of Florida there are more than 300 named varieties of Plumeria across the world.
In India, the tropical plants were known as temple trees. Buddhists said they resembled immortality because you can snap a branch off and it will re-grow and produce beautiful flowers from the severed branch. Hindus offered the beautiful tropical flowers to their gods. In other cultures, like Bengali, the white Plumerias were associated with funerals or death.
Aztec Indians used Plumeria for medical purposes.
Caribbean’s use the leaves as a wrap to heal bruises.
In the Philippines or Indonesia, you may find these flowers in graveyards because of the belief that the tropical plant would shelter ghosts.
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 flowering plants growing throughout Maui we also have a large variety of tropical flowering trees. Plumeria, African Tulip, Royal Poinciana, Jacaranda and the native Ohia (help stop spread of rapid ohia death) are just a few 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 More Flowers of Hawaii Photos Below – Aloha Nui Loa