Hawaii is unique in many ways. Not only is it the only island state in the US, Hawaii is also home to the most active volcano on earth. It has some of the most interesting and diverse wildlife you can find in the world, and it is home to several types of indigenous, tropical flowers that you may only be able to find on the islands. In fact, each main island lays official claim to a specific type of tropical flower because of their significance to the the islands’ individual culture, history, and people. Whether you are planning a vacation with our Kolea rentals at Waikoloa or are interested in the history of some of these flowers, this article outlines what you should know about each flower and how it came to be associated with the main Islands of Hawaii.

1. Big Island of Hawaii: Lehua Ohia

This tropical flower is associated with the Big Island of Hawaii because of a long-standing tradition that dates back to the indigenous people’s belief in the volcano goddess, Pele. According to legend, Pele was in love with the warrior Ohia. Ohia had already pledged his love to Lehua, however, so in her wrath, Pele turned Ohia into a gnarled, twisted tree. The other gods took pity on Lehua, who was heartbroken over Ohia, and turned her into a flower on the Ohia tree so they could be together forever. Tradition says if you pluck a flower from the lehua tree, it is as if you are separating lovers, and it will rain on the island that day. The Big Island has named the Lehua Ohia flower as their official flower, and its story and cultural ties signify the topographical features of the island as well as the history of its indigenous people.

2. Niihau: Pupu Shell

The Island of Niihau lays claim to the Pupu Shell as its official island “flower” in addition to being the official island material for making a lei. The Pupu shell, even indicated by its name, isn’t a flower as much as it is a white shell. During the winter months in Hawaii, several large waves deposit hundreds of thousands of these shells on the beach, and the natives have been using and collecting them for years.

3. Kauai: Mokihana

This specific type of flower is found to grow on trees that can only be found in Kauai. The mokihana refers to the citrus fruit that buds from the tree, and like the Pupu Shell, is also used in leis to represent the island of Kauai. Its unique and specific area of growth makes it a perfect symbol of Kauai.

4. Oahu: Ilima

Ilimas are a beautiful yellow-orange flower grown on shrubs throughout the Islands. Oahu claims the yellow ilima flower which was previously used on Oahu as a medicine used to treat common illnesses. It was especially given to children and pregnant/nursing mothers who would often either drink the juice from the flower or eat the flower whole.

5. Maui: Lokelani

The lokelani, also known as the pink lokelani or the pink cottage rose, is a beautiful, pink flower similar in appearance to a rose and is also very fragrant. This flower is particularly unique, as it is the only official Hawaiian island flower that is not native to the islands. It was brought over and planted on Maui in the 1800s. It is actually rare to find nowadays, like the other rare and unique aspects that can be found on Maui.

6. Molokai: White Kukui Blossom

The white kukui blossom can be found on a unique tree called the candlenut tree on the island of Molokai. When in bloom, the candlenut tree sprouts the kukui blossom and indicates that the tree is ready to bear fruit, which was previously used by early settlers and colonizers to make candles, thus giving the tree the name it is known by today. It was chosen as Molokai’s specific island official flower because of its total abundance across the island.

7. Lanai: Kaunaoa

The kaunaoa, also known as the air plant, is a botanical oddity as it has no leaves of its own. The kaunaoa is therefore unable to survive on its own and is known as a parasitic plant that overcomes other vegetation to receive its nutrients. The flowers that bud from the air plant, also referred to as the kaunaoa flowers, are a small, beautiful white color, and are commonly used in leis to represent Lanai where this plant is abundantly present.

8. Kahoolawe: Hinahina

To finish this suite of interesting Hawaiian flowers, Kahoolawe’s official flower is the hinahina, pleasant-smelling white flowers that usually grow in clusters of about 15 flowers each. While the hinahina can be found all around the Hawaiian islands and other Pacific island chains, Kahoolawe claims it as a lei material that may even be steeped in hot water to make a mild tea.

Fun in the Islands of Flowers

If you are planning a Hawaiian vacation of a lifetime, complete with your own lei and relaxing Kolea vacation rental and beach resort, call us at Waikoloa Vacation Rentals today and secure your luxury condo during your stay on the islands.