hawaiian flowers

Top 8 Flowers of Hawaii and Their Meanings

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Wondering about some common Hawaiian flowers and their meanings? If so, you’ve come to the right place. 

Hawaiian flowers can be used to symbolize many meanings – and there are definitely multiple flowers that bring out the best of this tropical culture. Here are some of the most common flowers of Hawaii, along with their deep symbolism. 

#1. Hibiscus

yellow hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are generally used to symbolize beauty. In fact, these flowers are practically ubiquitous in Hawaii, where they are often worn by women to convey their marital status. When women wear hibiscus blossoms behind their left ears, it signifies that they are married. If worn behind the right ear, it indicates that a woman is available. 

Hibiscus flowers are usually found in yellow, though other colors are sometimes found. The shrubs bloom daily, with each blossom lasting only one day. Yellow hibiscus (hibiscus brackenridgei) is also the official Hawaii state flower.

See more: Hibiscus flower meaning and symbolism

#2. Orchids

kauai hawaii orchid

Grown throughout the Hawaiian Islands, the orchid is particularly popular on the Big Island. Here, the island is often referred to as “the Orchid Isle” because of how many orchid types are grown here!

These flowers symbolize rare, delicate beauty, but are often viewed as a symbol of luxury, too. In some cultures, like Greece, the flowers can also symbolize virility. Either way, orchids are often used as flowers for 14th wedding anniversaries.

#3. Naupaka Flowers

scaevola taccada

These uniquely-shaped flowers with a scientific name scaevola taccada are entrenched in local legend. Supposedly, Naupaka, a princess, fell deeply in love with a commoner. She was directed to a temple far away, where she should pray for advice on what to do. Naupaka and her lover traveled for days, but on their arrival, were told that nothing could be done.

Heartbroken, Naupaka removed the white flower she had in her hair and ripped it in half, giving one side to her lover. She remained in the mountains and sent him to the beach. That’s why you will find two types of naupaka plants – one grows on the beach, and one grows in the mountains. 

#4. Plumerias

potted plumeria

Plumeria flowers meaning includes a representation of love, birth, and new beginnings. They bloom in the spring so they are often used to symbolize springtime, too. They are typically used in leis, and while they were once only worn by royalty, the fragrant blooms are now worn by just about everyone. 

These flowers are either yellow or pink and have sweet, plying aromas. Like hibiscus flowers, they can also be worn to symbolize a woman’s romantic status. 

Interestingly, in Buddhist cultures, plumeria flowers can represent immortality, likely because plumeria trees continue to bloom even when uprooted. They are considered sacred and are planted outside every Buddhist temple in the country of Laos. 

Plumerias are found all over Hawaii but are not native to this country. They were introduced by a German botanist in 1860 and grow well in the unique climate and volcanic soil of Hawaii.

#5. Ohia Lehua Flowers

ohia lehua flowers
‘Ohi’a lehua blossom – Photo by Todd Smith from Pexels

Ohia lehua flowers (Metrosideros polymorpha) are often viewed as symbolic of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. This is because these flowers were some of the first to begin growing on lava flows after an eruption.

There is a legend related to Pele. She was said to be in love with a man named Ohia, a handsome man who was madly infatuated with another woman, Lehua. Pele was outraged and heartbroken, so she turned Ohia into a twisted tree and Lehua into a blossom on the tree. 

Today, Hawaiians believe that if you remove a lehua flower from a tree, it will rain – the tears of the couple as they are separated. 

#6. Red Tower Ginger

red tower ginger

Red tower gingers, or red ginger flowers, can grow to large, impressive sizes. They look much like green spears with red tips. They are often used to symbolize weather, tolerance, and diversity. 

However, since they have deep red blooms, they can also be used to symbolize romantic love and passion, as is common among red flowers of any species.

#7. Pikake Flowers

sambac jasmine

PIkake flowers, also known as sambac jasmine flowers, are bright and sweet-smelling flowers. Often worn by hula dancers and brides, they are frequently given to honored guests, too. The name translates to “peacock” and was named by Princess Kaiulani. 

#8. Bird of Paradise Flowers

hawaiian bird of paradise

Bird of paradise flowers, as the name implies, look much like birds in flight.

Bird of paradise flowers symbolize joy along with liberty and freedom. Although they are commonly grown in Hawaii, they are actually native to South Africa.

Here, they are associated with liberty and with the end of apartheid in South Africa. They are commonly given as gifts for ninth wedding anniversaries. 


Conclusion

With so many flowers growing on the islands of Hawaii, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a beautiful bloom to decorate your hair or home. The flowers offer so much more than their visceral beauty, however. The blooms represent the magnificent and storied culture of Hawaii – and of its people. 

Up Next: Common Tropical Flower Names

Image by OKGraphic/depositphotos

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