What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (2024)

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  • What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (1)Rachael Gerkensmeyer
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What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (2)

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!

What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (3)

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.

What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (4)

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 Ilimagrown as shrubs or ground cover, yellow in color, and may have velvety hairs
  • Hawaii (Big Island): Ohia Lehuanative 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 Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (5)

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.

What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (6)

Final Thoughts

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



What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (7)

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

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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What Is the State Flower of Hawaii? History & Conservation | House Grail (2024)


What is the state flower of Hawaii history? ›

Hawaiians adopted the hibiscus – in all colors — as their official Territorial flower in the early 1920s however it wasn't until 1988 that the yellow hibiscus, specifically the Hibiscus brackenridgei was selected as Hawaii's state flower.

What is the official flower of the island of Hawaii? ›

Nonetheless, the vibrant, jazzy flower, which comes in a variety of colors ranging from bright pink to white, has come to characterize Hawaii, with the yellow hibiscus, also known as pua alo alo, acting as an emblem of the state.

What is Hawaii's state animal and flower? ›

The flag, seal, flower (yellow hibiscus), bird (nene/Hawaiian goose), and tree (kukui) are some of the major state symbols of Hawaii.

What is Hawaii's state plant? ›

Hawaii's Yellow Hibiscus: The State Flower

The yellow hibiscus is Hawaii's official state flower, also known as hibiscus brackenridgei.

What is Hawaii state flower and tree? ›

Photographs – State Symbols
State CapitolNene – State Bird
Yellow Hibiscus – State FlowerYellow Hibiscus – State Flower
Kukui – State TreeKukui – State Tree
State Seal

What is the Hawaiian flower of remembrance? ›

The most common lei you will see Hawaiians wearing at a funeral are maile lei, ti-leaf lei, and orchid lei.

What is the English flower of Hawaii? ›

Fruit Stigma The yellow hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii, although the most commonly seen hibiscus in the state is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.

What is Hawaii state motto? ›

The State Motto

The words Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono which mean "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." The saying is attributed to King Kamehameha III on July 31, 1843, when the Hawaiian flag was once more raised after a brief period of unauthorized usurpation of authority by a British admiral.

What is Hawaii's state dog? ›

The Hawaiian Poi Dog's appearance resembled other Polynesian dogs and other primitive breeds worldwide. The dog's legs were pretty short, causing the breed to be between 13 and 16 inches tall. Additionally, the species had a long body, similar to a corgi.

What is Hawaii's state symbol? ›

Now you know the 5 big Hawaii State Symbols – the Yellow Hibiscus, the Nene Goose, the Aloha State, the motto about the life of the land preserved in righteousness. You even know the state fish, and soon you will be able to pronounce it. But you know there is a state symbol for everything from songs to gemstones.

What is Hawaii's fruit? ›

SUMMER: avocados, dragon fruit, egg fruit, jackfruit, lychee, mango, passionfruit, soursop. YEAR-ROUND: apple bananas, breadfruit, coconuts, noni, papaya, pineapple. There's no reason to feel intimidated by the exotic fruits of Hawaii.

What is Hawaii's national food? ›

Saimin. Saimin, Hawaii's national dish, is a soup with thin wheat noodles and a dashi broth with shrimp, pork and eggs. Japanese, Chinese and Filipino cultural influences come together in a flavorful blend served hot and eaten with chopsticks.

What is Hawaii's state fish? ›

The name of Hawaii's state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, actually means “triggerfish with a snout like a pig”. This is quite fitting, as the humuhumunukunukuapua'a does have a very pig-like snout!

What does the state flower of Hawaii mean? ›

In Hawaiian culture, Hibiscus is a symbol of old royalty & communicates power and respect. It's commonly given to visitors, state officials, & tourists.

What is the history of the flower lei in Hawaii? ›

Historical context

Leis were originally worn by ancient Polynesians and some Asian people as part of custom. They were often used by Native Hawaiians to signify their ranks and royalty. They are also worn as a form of honor to each other and their gods.

What does the flower of Hawaii mean? ›

In the tropical paradise of Hawaiʻi, there's a flower that captures the essence of the islands like no other – the plumeria. The plumeria is more than just a pretty bloom with its vibrant colors and intoxicating fragrance. It holds a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians, symbolizing love, beauty, and grace.

What does the hibiscus flower represent? ›

The pink hibiscus flower has its origins in Asia and the Pacific Islands, where it has served as a symbol of beauty, femininity, and young love. It is commonly associated with the Hawaiian culture and the Aloha spirit, which celebrates love, happiness, and peace.


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