List of Hawaiian Plants

Hawaii is not only known for beautiful beaches, a strong cultural community and sunshine, it is also popular for the lush green islands full of thriving plant life and tropical flowers. Since the volcanic soil is so fertile and nutrient-rich (combined with lots of rainfall and constant sun), the list of Hawaiian plants is quite extensive. A handful though are worth mentioning as beneficial landscaping ideas or plants that are official species of the islands, such as the yellow hibiscus.


Since the 1920s, the hibiscus flower, otherwise known as pua aloalo, has been honored by the Hawaiians as their unofficial flower. However, it wasn't until the late 1980s that it was actually officially recognized as such. The yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is the most loved color of this plant variety, but other colors thrive on the islands such as red, orange, pink and white. They are used everywhere, whether it is a wedding bouquet or hotel floral arrangements, to growing wild along the beach.

Golden Shower Tree

Imagine a weeping willow tree, but instead of long soft leaves hanging from the branches, golden bonnet-shaped blossoms rain down instead. This is the golden shower tree (Cassia fistula), which has a strong flower fragrance when blooming. Although they tend to be messy on a landscape, they are a bright bold addition that catches the eye.


Kauai island's official plant is the mokihana (Pelea anisata), which is not a flower but produces berries. Only growing down the sides of Mount Waialelae, the natives use them as beads to thread onto strings. The firm berries have an anise aroma and provide an oily texture against human skin.


Guava (Psidium guajava) is a popular fruit in Hawaii, as well as around the world in tropical regions. It is not only one of the most common fruit trees on the islands, it helps produce one of the state's major exports. The yellow fruit is firm with a pinkish pulp and is available almost year-round.


The main flower used to create traditional leis is the ilima (Sida fallax), which thrives in hues of coral, white, purple and red all over the island of Oahu (it is the official flower of this island). The ilima resembles a smaller version of a hibiscus. Not only for decoration and cultural events, the elderly and pregnant women regularly drink the juice pressed from the petals to promote strength and well-being.


Although these blossoms can grows in colors of orange, white or yellow, the official flower of the Big Island is the red ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha). This is another flower that is used often to create leis, but has even more meaning than just making beautiful accents. It is also said that this flower is sacred to Pele, Hawaii's volcano goddess.


The pink lokelani (Rosa damascena), or pink cottage rose, is the official flower of Maui. Since it arrived on the islands in the 1800s, this flower is popular for Hawaiian landscaping all over the islands. The lokelani is the only non-native plant to be recognized as the official flower of any of the Hawaiian islands.

Keywords: Hawaii landscaping, Hawaiian flowers, Hawaiian plants

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.