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Native Hawaiian Flowering Trees

Hawaii orchid image by Allyson Ricketts from

Plant native flowering trees in a Hawaiian garden to add dimension and height to a flower bed. The trees are also used as stand-alone specimen plants where their flowers are displayed against the backdrop of their own leaves. Native trees are acclimated to the climate and types of soil found in Hawaii and complement other, shorter growing native plants.


Koa (Acacia koa) is also known as Koai'a, Koai'e and Koa'oha. The tree grows 50 feet tall and the trunk can reach a diameter of 10 to 25 feet at maturity. The tree does not have true leaves but rather modified leaf stems that perform the same functions a leaf would. The stems are grey-green and grow from 3 to 9 ½ inches long.

The tree produces small, yellow flowers that grow in clusters both at the ends of the branches an the base of the stems. The flowers give way to brown seed pods that grow up to 12 inches long and up to 1 inch wide. Koa is found on all of the main islands with the exception of Kaho'olawe and Ni'ihau, and is recommended for use as a landscape plant.

Portia Tree

Portia tree (Hibiscus populneus) is also known as Milo and grows up to 30 feet tall with a spread of 12 feet. The tree produces oval-shaped, triangular, shiny green leaves that grow from 2 to 3 inches long and yellow flowers that grow from 2 to 3 inches long and resemble those of the hibiscus plant. The flowers give way to seed capsules that measure from 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

The tree is native to many areas of the tropics and in Hawaii, it is found on all of the main islands except for Kaho'olawe and is recommended as a landscape plant.


Alahe'e (Psydrax odorata) is also known as Ohe'e and Walahe'e. The tree grows from 6 to 30 feet tall with a crown spread of 3 to 7 feet. The glossy-green leaves grow up to 3 ½ inches long and are elliptical in shape and the flowers are white, small and grow in clusters.

Small, black, juicy fruit appears when the flowers are done, and lasts through the winter. The tree is native to Hawaii on all of the main islands with the exception of Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe, Micronesia, and other areas of the South Pacific. The tree is used in landscaping and the flowers are used to make the traditional Hawaiian Lei.

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