The tropical paradise of Hawaii boasts lush foliage and fragrant flowers. Many of the state's tropical flowers are stunning in shape, design and color. Some, such as the bird of paradise and anthurium bear little resemblance to what one might expect a flower to look like. Many of the flowers found in Hawaii adorn gardens in other sunshine states, such as California and Florida.
The hibiscus is one of the most common flowers found on the Hawaiian Islands. Grown as a tree or shrub, the hibiscus is a member of the mallow family and comes in a variety of colors. In the early 1900s, the hibiscus was selected as the state's official territorial flower. The yellow hibiscus, which is native to the Islands, was declared Hawaii's official state flower in 1988.
The sweetly fragrant plumeria, commonly used for making Hawaiian leis, typically has five petals. Unlike the daisy, whose petals come together at a yellow center, the bottom ends of the plumeria's petals meet to make the flower's center. Commonly called the frangipani, its flower has a heavy perfume scent. Available in various colors, the petals are typically two-toned, with some being multi-shaded.
Orchids are the classic tropical flower often associated with Hawaii. Tourists visiting the Islands find mini-orchids garnishing fruity cocktails. Ironically, Hawaii has only three native orchids, whereas the dry state of Nevada, noted for its vast deserts, has 14 native orchids, according to "Native Orchids of Nevada," by Carol Siegel.
The tropical anthurium is not native to Hawaii, yet the flower is associated with the Islands. What appears to be the flower's single colorful leather-like blossom is actually a spathe, or modified leaf. From the bottom end of the spathe, on the side opposite the stem, grows a narrow, protruding column which forms the actual flower of the anthurium plant.
Bird of Paradise
Although the Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant commonly associated with Hawaii, it is actually a South African native. The plant is named for its dramatically shaped and brilliantly colored flowers, which resemble a tropical bird taking flight.