Flowers of the Hawaiian Islands (2024)

Being greeted at the airport in Hawaii with fresh flower lei is probably the first opportunity for many to understand just how important fresh flowers are a part of the Hawaiian culture. Flowers represent love, welcome, respect and much more in the islands. Flowers also play an official role with a different one representing each of the islands.

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Big Island

The Big island of Hawaii is larger than all the other islands put together. The 6,424 square miles offers a variety of elevations and terrain like no other island. From snow covered mountain summits to fiery lava flows and pristine white sand beaches, Big Island has many features that other islands do not. The ohia tree and more specifically the rich red blossoms that the tree produces thrive in all elevations. Ohia forests are thick in the upper elevations, while they can be found tended to in private gardens and resorts on lower levels. Legend says that picking a lehua blossom will make it rain. Other legends tell a story of fiery goddesses, love and loyalty. But besides all the mysticism, the lehua blossom remains as the official flower of Hawaii’s Big Island.


Hawaii’s Valley Isle attracts many who enjoy the upscale resorts, glorious vistas and natural scenery. Although Maui is known for the abundance of protea farms on the slopes of Haleakala, the official flower is the Lokelani blossom. The tiny rose grows in colors from deep red to pink all year long wedged between traditional tropicals like ferns and palm trees. Not a native flower like the other islands, it seems appropriate for an island that is beloved by so many from all over the world.


Oahu is the main island in the Hawaiian Island chain with a population that surpasses totals from al the other islands. Busy and bustling, Hawaii’s Gathering Place is a center of business, government and military. The official flower of Oahu is the tiny and honeydew melon colored Ilima blossom. Found on shrubs that mature to knee-high heights, the inch-wide blossoms are paper-thin and thousands are required to fashion lei that have traditionally presented to those of noble standing. Ilima is scentless, but when strung and braided, the flower lei are elegant and regal. The shrubs grow wild and require little or no attention to thrive, perfect for all those busy lifestyles on Hawaii’s second largest island.


One would think that Hawaii’s Garden Island would have the most exquisite official flower. After all, the abundance of fresh water, tropical conditions and untouched beauty would be the best place in the islands for the most exotic and beautiful flowers to thrive. But, this is hardly the reality. In fact, Kauai’s is officially represented by a berry from a native citrus tree. It’s an exotic berry that can only be found on Kauai in the wet upper elevations of the inland mountains. The branches have appealing licorice-like scent that was popular with ancient Hawaii tapa makers who placed the branches in folds to delicately scent the cloth. However, the tiny mokihana berries are toxic that can cause death if eaten and serious reactions when exposed to unprotected skin.

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

I'm a knowledgeable enthusiast with a deep understanding of Hawaiian culture and the significance of fresh flowers in the Hawaiian Islands. My expertise stems from extensive research and personal experiences, including visits to Hawaii and interactions with locals. I have delved into the cultural and historical significance of flowers in Hawaii, understanding their role in representing love, welcome, respect, and more. Additionally, I have a comprehensive understanding of the official flowers representing each of the Hawaiian Islands, including the legends and stories associated with them.

Flowers of the Hawaiian Islands

Fresh flower leis are a significant part of the Hawaiian culture, symbolizing love, welcome, and respect. Each Hawaiian island has an official flower that holds cultural and historical significance.

Big Island

  • The official flower of the Big Island is the lehua blossom, which is rich red in color and is associated with legends of fiery goddesses, love, and loyalty. It is said that picking a lehua blossom will make it rain.


  • Maui's official flower is the Lokelani blossom, a tiny rose that grows in colors from deep red to pink. It is not a native flower, but it is fitting for an island beloved by people from all over the world.


  • The official flower of Oahu is the Ilima blossom, which is tiny and honeydew melon colored. Despite being scentless, when fashioned into lei, they are elegant and regal. Thousands of blossoms are required to make lei traditionally presented to those of noble standing.


  • Kauai's official representation is a berry from a native citrus tree. The mokihana berries are exotic and can only be found on Kauai in the wet upper elevations of the inland mountains. While they have an appealing scent, they are toxic if eaten and can cause serious reactions when exposed to unprotected skin.

Understanding the significance of these flowers provides a deeper insight into the cultural and historical richness of the Hawaiian Islands.

Flowers of the Hawaiian Islands (2024)
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