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- Rachael Gerkensmeyer
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There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds of flowers growing and thriving in Hawaii, and at least 21 can only be found in that state. It’s why most people imagine many colorful flowers when thinking of Hawaii. With so many flowers growing in the state, you might wonder what the official state flower happens to be. Hawaii has designated the yellow hibiscus as its official state flower. If you’re interested in learning more about this interesting flower and how it came to represent the state of Hawaii, read on!
About Hawaii’s State Flower
Native to Hawaii, the yellow hibiscus is listed as an endangered species. The Hawaiian name for the flower is Ma’ohauhele. You won’t find these flowers growing in the wild anywhere but in Hawaii (where it’s still rare), but some people grow them in pots in agricultural zones 9 to 11. The yellow hibiscus grows best in dry regions near the ocean but can grow up to 3,000 feet in elevation.
This flower is characterized by five brightly colored petals that are slightly layered. It has a long stamen that shoots out from its center. Its stalk is usually thick and strong, making it hardy enough to withstand different weather patterns throughout the year. These plants can grow into “trees” as tall as 30 feet in height, but they can be maintained as shrubs that can grow anywhere from 2 to 6 feet in height, depending on the growing vessel. Yellow hibiscus flowers are typically used in lei making, although the flowers for this purpose are commercially produced and not picked from the wild.
How the State’s Flower Was Chosen
In the 1920s, indigenous Hawaiians adopted hibiscus flowers of all colors as their official territorial flowers. After that, many people considered the red hibiscus as the state flower, which is why it is depicted on so many postcards, calendars, and other materials relating to Hawaii. However, in 1988, it was decided that Hawaii would adopt only the yellow hibiscus as the official state flower. While the Hawaiians chose the hibiscus in general as their flower because it represents royalty and respect, it is not clear how or why the yellow hibiscus was singled out to represent the state of Hawaii.
The Official Flowers of Each Hawaiian Island
In addition to an official state flower, each island in Hawaii has designated a flower to represent them in an official capacity. Most of these flowers are utilized in the leis made on each island, providing the islands with a fun way to differentiate themselves from one another.
Here are the major islands’ official flowers:
- Oahu: The Ilima — grown as shrubs or ground cover, yellow in color, and may have velvety hairs
- Hawaii (Big Island): Ohia Lehua — native to Hawaii, grows on trees, and comes in red, yellow, and white
- Maui: The Lokelani — bright pink, fragrant, native to Asia, and introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s
- Kauai: The Mokihana — aromatic, does well at low elevations, grows as a shrub, and is utilized in lei making
You may notice that an island’s representative flower is included in the lei that may be presented to you during your vacation. If you live in Hawaii, you can grow these flowers and create your own leis to help represent all the islands that make up the state.
What to Do If You See a Yellow Hibiscus in Hawaii
Unless you live in Hawaii or are visiting the state, you won’t have to worry about coming across one growing wildly. They’re even hard to find in Hawaii because they simply can’t compete with all the other habitation. However, if you do come across one during an excursion in Hawaii, you should stay well away from it and admire it from afar. These flowers are endangered, and every single one that is growing in the wild is crucial. Never touch or brush up against a yellow hibiscus plant, to ensure that it does not get damaged.
The yellow hibiscus plant is beautiful, and it’s a shame that they are so rare to find in the wild. Luckily, they can be cultivated and grown in landscape designs. As the official state flower, the Hawaiian yellow hibiscus deserves a front seat when it comes to a visual representation of the state.
Featured Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay
Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.
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As an expert in the topic of flowers, I can provide you with information about the concepts mentioned in this article. Let's dive into it!
Hawaii's State Flower: Yellow Hibiscus
The official state flower of Hawaii is the yellow hibiscus. Native to Hawaii, the yellow hibiscus is listed as an endangered species and is known by its Hawaiian name, Ma'ohauhele. It is characterized by five brightly colored petals that are slightly layered, with a long stamen shooting out from its center. The stalk of the yellow hibiscus is usually thick and strong, allowing it to withstand different weather patterns throughout the year. These plants can grow up to 30 feet in height but can also be maintained as shrubs ranging from 2 to 6 feet in height. Yellow hibiscus flowers are commonly used in lei making, although the flowers used for this purpose are commercially produced rather than picked from the wild.
How the State's Flower Was Chosen
In the 1920s, indigenous Hawaiians adopted hibiscus flowers of all colors as their official territorial flowers. However, in 1988, it was decided that Hawaii would adopt only the yellow hibiscus as the official state flower. The exact reason why the yellow hibiscus was singled out is not clear, but the hibiscus flower in general was chosen because it represents royalty and respect.
Official Flowers of Each Hawaiian Island
In addition to the official state flower, each island in Hawaii has designated a flower to represent it in an official capacity. Here are the major islands' official flowers:
- Oahu: The Ilima, which is yellow in color and can be grown as shrubs or ground cover.
- Hawaii (Big Island): The Ohia Lehua, which is native to Hawaii, grows on trees, and comes in red, yellow, and white.
- Maui: The Lokelani, which is bright pink, fragrant, native to Asia, and was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s.
- Kauai: The Mokihana, which is aromatic, does well at low elevations, grows as a shrub, and is used in lei making.
These representative flowers are often included in leis that may be presented to visitors or used to represent the different islands of Hawaii.
Seeing a Yellow Hibiscus in Hawaii
If you happen to come across a yellow hibiscus during your visit to Hawaii, it is important to admire it from afar and avoid touching or brushing up against the plant. Yellow hibiscus flowers are endangered, and each one growing in the wild is crucial for their preservation. These flowers are rare to find in the wild due to competition from other habitation.
In conclusion, the yellow hibiscus is the official state flower of Hawaii, representing the beauty and uniqueness of the islands. Each island in Hawaii also has its own designated flower to represent it. If you have the opportunity to visit Hawaii, make sure to appreciate the beauty of these flowers while respecting their endangered status.
I hope this information helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.