Top 17 Best Hawaiian Flowers

Best Hawaiian Flowers

Best Hawaiian Flowers: Hawaii archipelago is famous for its lush greenery, blue waters, and unique animals. Still, many flowers that are usually associated with this region were introduced after James Cook arrived there.

Suggested Reading: Best Native Hawaiian Birds

Best Hawaiian Flowers

This page is devoted to unique types of Hawaiian flowers that cannot be found anywhere else.


Metrosideros polymorpha

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Myrtales Myrtaceae Metrosideros Metrosideros polymorpha

Metrosideros polymorpha

Locals call this First Hawaiian flower plant as the Ohia tree. It is a species of evergreen tree that is endemic to Hawaii.

  • It belongs to the myrtle family and is distantly related to cloves and eucalypti.
  • Ohia trees can differ in height from small bushes to towering forest trees.
  • These trees can be easily recognized by their grey, scaly bark and bright red flowers with extremely long stamens.
  • Ohia trees have a massive significance for local species, as well as members of aboriginal tribes of Hawaii.

Interesting facts:

  • These trees are the primary nesting ground and source of food for local endemic Bird SpeciesHawaiian honeycreepers.
  • The petals of Ohia tree flowers are extremely short what an onlooker perceives as a flower is the flower’s stamen.
  • This tree is the first growth of fresh lava flows.
  • Sometimes, ohia tree saplings grow as epiphytes in fern forests.
  • The locals believe that the red Hawaiian flowers of the Ohia tree bring rain. Therefore, they tried not to pick these flowers when they were entering the forest to avoid getting caught by the downpour. When leaving the forest, one may take a flower to bring rain to their crops.


Sesbania tomentosa

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Fabales Fabaceae Sesbania Sesbania tomentosa
Sesbania tomentosa
Source: Wikimedia

These endemic Hawaiian plants can grow to different heights. They can grow as shrubs with horizontal or arching branches or up 15 feet plants.

  • Their leaves resemble those of acacia and are located in rows on one stem. Each stem has two rows of oval silver leaflets covered with short hair.
  • The flowers of those trees have bright pea-shaped flowers that grow in clusters.
  • The flowers can be deep red, salmon, or sometimes yellow. The seeds of this tree grow in pods.

Interesting facts:

  • The leaves at the stem can emit a scent similar to nectarines on hot and sunny days.
  • These Hawaii flowers are rare on the main islands and are extinct on Ni`ihau island.
  • One of the common names of this flower is Oahu riverhemp.
  • Before slowly dying out, these Oahu flowers were traditionally used in lei wreaths.
  • In the wild, this rare Hawaiian flower plant can cover several square meters of land.

Suggested Reading:

Oahu River Hemp

Sesbania tomentosa, also known as Oahu Riverhemp, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae (pea) family, native to the Hawaiian Islands and the Necker and Nihoa Islands. At least 2,000 species grow in Nihoa, while much fewer in Necker. Oahu Riverhemp is very polymorphic and has excellent variations in shape and color.


Argemone glauca

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Ranunculales Papaveraceae Argemone Argemone glauca
Argemone glauca
Source: Wikimedia

The next Hawaiian flower is Hawaii’s endemic plant that can be found only on the island O’ahu, on rocky terrain.

  • These Hawaiian flowers grow from 1 to 3 feet high. They have typical blue-green stems with leaves covered in yellow spikes.
  • Though this flower is often named Hawaiian poppy, it is quite unlike the European version: it is round and white with yellow stamens.
  • The stigma in the center is lobed and colored purple inside. If the plant is damaged, it will ooze yellow sap. The seeds grow in dark, dry pods.

Interesting facts:

  • The locals call this flower Pua Kala.
  • Interesting fact: these plants are poisonous. The locals knew how to use them for treatment. The seeds and saps are used to treat toothache and neuralgia because they have narcotic and analgesic properties.
  • Each argemone flower lasts only a day, but one can expect new flowers daily in the blooming season.
  • These native Hawaiian flowers are useless for bouquets – they wilt immediately.
  • This plant is very prickly – stems, leaves, and capsules with seeds are hard to touch. It can be used in landscaping as a “path guardian” because of it.

Suggested Reading:

Pua Kala

Anyone with a sunny and dry spot on their property could consider planting the native Hawaiian plant known as Pua Kala (Argemone glauca). The genus has about 30 members and belongs to the plant family Papaveraceae (poppy family).


Abutilon eremitopetalum

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Malvales Malvaceae Abutilon Abutilon eremitopetalum
Abutilon eremitopetalum
Source: Wikimedia

This plant is a shrub. It has typical heart-shaped leaves with toothed edges. The leaves are covered with soft short hairs.

  • The flowers look green; however, the green sepals form the outer flowers.
  • The other prominent part of this Hawaiin flower is the stamen column, which can be identified as a cluster of yellow, red, or white balls that sit on a long stem that goes beyond the actual flower.
  • This shrub is extremely rare. These Hawaiian flowers form cylindrical fruit around half an inch in diameter.

Interesting facts:

  • Abutilon fruit is usually covered in brown or white fuzz.
  • The real color of the flower petals is also green. Sometimes, the lime green petals can have a spot of red entirely hidden by sepals. There are only 3 species of maple with flowers like that.
  • The common local name for this plant is hidden-petalled illima.
  • There is only one place where this plant can be found – at the height of approximately 300 m on Lana`i island.
  • This plant is threatened by introduced exotic species, such as lantana.


Geranium arboreum

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Geraniales Geraniaceae Geranium Geranium arboreum
Geranium arboreum
Source: Wikimedia

This flower is endemic to Hawaii and can only be found on Maui island. It is listed as endangered on the federal level.

  • This shrub can grow up to 4 meters in height. The leaves of this geranium species have “teeth” on the edges.
  • These Maui flowers are bright and can be colored red or magenta. One can also find this geranium in the National Haleakala park.

Interesting facts:

  • The common name for this flower is red cranesbill.
  • This unique geranium is the only species in its genus pollinated by birds, especially honeycreepers such as entirely.
  • According to specialists, this geranium species is so rare it can be found in only nine isolated populations, and there are no more than 50 individual plants left in total.
  • These rare Hawaii flowers thrive in moist, shady gulches.
  • The main enemies of this plant are wild pigs and grazing cattle, as well as competition from introduced species.


Hibiscus brackenridgei

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Malvales Malvaceae Hibiscus Hibiscus brackenridgei

Hibiscus brackenridgei

The locals call this shrub Ma’o Hau Hele. The Western name is Brackenridge’s Rosemallow.

  • This Hawaiian flower plant is a shrub that can grow to a different heights.
  • The plant’s bark is smooth while young.
  • As these plants grow, the trunks may develop wrinkled bark. The leaves are fuzzy, with toothed edges and dark green.
  • The flowers of this hibiscus are large and bright yellow and often form small clusters. This plant needs sunny spaces to grow.

Interesting facts:

  • These Hawaiian hibiscus flowers are an official state flower of Hawaii. It is also endangered.
  • The translation of the native name means “traveling green hau“. When the plant grows too high, it may fall over, and the fallen branches may spread new roots. There was a report about a particular shrub that has “traveled” this way about 20 feet.
  • To cultivate these famous Hawaiian flowers, gardeners need to pollinate them manually to prevent hybridization.
  • Hawaii changed its state flower from red hibiscus to yellow hibiscus in 1988, as it was the only known yellow hibiscus species.
  • There are two subspecies in these native Hawaiian plants; each grows on individual islands.


Bidens cosmoides

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Asterales Asteraceae Bidens Bidens cosmoides
Bidens cosmoides
Source: Wikimedia

The next Hawaiian flower is a woody climbing plant that can grow up to 6-8 feet high. The branches can sprout their roots if they touch the soil.

  • The leaves are long and are composed of 3-8 smaller leaflets. The flowers are bright yellow, with long bell-shaped petals resembling a daisy.
  • They also have typical messy-looking stamens. Bidens flowers usually look downwards in small clusters.
  • The plant tends to grow in damp forests.

Interesting facts:

  • The common name for these flowers of Hawaii is Cosmosflower beggarticks.
  • These flowers are often used for lei-making.
  • This plant is endemic to Kauai island.
  • The locals call this flower Po’ola Nui. It is the largest among so-called ko ‘oko’olau flowers (the collective name for the flowers in the genus Bidens).
  • The leaves of these flowers native to Hawaii were traditionally used in hot tonics and teas before the Westerners found the islands.


Brighamia insignis

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Asterales Campanulaceae Brighamia Brighamia insignis


This plant is often called a Hawaiian palm but is actually a succulent. This flower has a typical succulent stem that is wider below.

  • It has a cluster of spoon-shaped, leathery dark green leaves on the upper side.
  • The flower stems grow directly from the cluster of leaves. The tubular flowers are usually white or yellow.
  • These Hawaiian tropical flowers grow on Kauai island exclusively. It is both endemic and critically endangered.

Interesting facts:

  • One of the names for the flower is cabbage-on-the-baseball bat or cabbage on a stick!
  • These beautiful Hawaiian flowers are often cultivated for protection against slugs and African snails in the garden.
  • The plant is dying out because the moth that used to pollinate it has gone extinct.
  • There is a theory that the local tribes were growing this plant because its seeds have medicinal properties, though nobody knows exactly what they were.
  • The scent of these endemic Hawaiian flowers is similar to honeysuckle.


Sophora chrysophylla

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Fabales Fabaceae Sophora Sophora chrysophylla
Sophora chrysophylla
Source: Wikimedia

These Hawaiian flowering trees can grow up to 12 meters high and has compound leaves.

  • The leaflets of the Sophora chrysophylla tree are thick, dark green, and oblong, grouped in two rows on the same stem.
  • These flowers from Hawaiian trees are bright yellow and form small clusters at the tips of the branches.
  • The form of the flowers is typical for the pea family, to which this plant also belongs.
  • The trees carry their seeds in long seed pods that resemble a necklace. One can see Sophora chrysophylla plants in uplands and dry forests.

Interesting facts:

  • As with many Hawaiian endemic plants, these trees are endangered.
  • The local name for these native Hawaiian flowers is Mamane trees.
  • Sophora chrysophylla flowers are the primary food source for local honeycreepers that feed on its nectar.
  • One honeycreeper, particularly a rare Palila bird, feeds on its seeds.
  • The seeds of Sophora chrysophylla are poisonous, and only two species can tolerate them.


Broussaisia arguta

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Cornales Hydrangeaceae Broussaisia Broussaisia arguta
Broussaisia arguta
Source: Flickr

This Hawaiian plant belongs to the same family as the common hydrangea.

  • It is an upright shrub with leaves that grow opposite each other, forming whorls.
  • The flower leaves are oblong, narrow at the end, with deep-seated veins.
  • These best flowers to grow in Hawaii have prominent stamens and small, curled petals.
  • They form big clusters. They are colored violet, brown or black.
  • The plant also produces black, small berries that were said to be eaten by the Hawaiians.
  • This plant is endemic to Hawaii. The local name of this plant is Kanawao.

Interesting facts:

  • The locals call this plant Kanawao.
  • These Hawaiian flowering plants can spread with the help of seeds and by sprouting new roots.
  • There are only one species in the genus Broussasia.
  • Pigs brought to Hawaii often dig under these Hawaiian flower plants and damage roots. Fencing small colonies of these plants from the pigs have considerably helped in restoring them.
  • A species of spiders called “happy face spiders” are known to hide under Kanawao leaves.

Suggested Reading:


Flower Type: Shrubs/Trees
Broussaisia ​​arguta, also known as the Kanawao, is a perennial in the Hydrangeaceae (hydrangea) family, native to Hawaii. It's the only species in the monotypic Broussaisia genus. As with common hydrangea varieties, their blooms range from creamy yellow to blue, lavender, and magenta, but the resemblance ends there.


Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Asterales Asteraceae Argyroxiphium Argyroxiphium sandwicense


This Hawaiian flower plant can be found on the summit of Haleakala national park on Maui, as well as on Mauna Kea.

  • It is known to the scientists as Hawaiian silversword.
  • These Hawaiian flowering plants are acclimated to heights. In the non-flowering period, the silversword looks like a rosette of spiky, silver-grey leaves.
  • The bright red or purple flowers grow downward from the general stem.

Interesting facts:

  • The silversword blooms only once and then dies.
  • The silversword’s flowers grow several times as high as the rosette at the base.
  • This Hawaiian flower is one of the rarest plants in the world. The local authorities tried to outplant it in other locations to preserve it.
  • The Hawaiian name for it is ahinahina – ‘very grey’.

When attempts were made to cultivate this plant, it began branching and flowering almost yearly.

Suggested Reading:

Purple Flowers

World’s 50 Most Pretty Purple Flowers

Looking for cute purple flowers to plant in your garden or want to learn them from a botany perspective? Here are the 50 top pretty purple flowers & names.


Lobelia gaudichaudii

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Asterales Campanulaceae Lobelia Lobelia gaudichaudii
Lobelia gaudichaudii
Source: Wikimedia

This Hawaiian plant grows in the Southern Ko’olau mountains on Oahu island.

  • These native Hawaiian plants have a woody stem with a rosette of long leaves on its top.
  • The flowers grow on a long stem, usually crimson.
  • The petals are short, and there are usually many small flowers around one single stem.
  • These flowers require wet conditions to flourish.

Interesting facts:

  • Scientists believe that Lobelia species arrived in Hawaii around 13 million years ago.
  • The flowers have a peculiar, curved shape to accommodate the bills of the native birds that feed on their nectar.
  • Lobelia flowers can grow up to 75 cm long.
  • According to the specialists’ data, around 1000 Lobelia gaudichaudii plants are left in the archipelago.
  • A subspecies, Lobelia gaudichaudii ssp. koolauensis is almost extinct – there are less than 252 plants in total.


Leptecophylla tameiameiae

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Ericales Ericaceae Leptecophylla Leptecophylla tameiameiae
Leptecophylla tameiameia
Source: Wikimedia

The next Hawaiian flower plant is a shrub that usually grows in open spaces and forests and can be found at low and middle heights.

  • The shrub has multiple branches with small, clustering leaves.
  • The flowers and fruit can be seen on the top of the branches.
  • Flowers are either white or pink.
  • The fruits form clusters and can be white, pink, or red.

Interesting facts:

  • It is one of the few endemic Hawaiian plants that are not considered endangered.
  • The leaves of this plant are used in a concoction used to prevent congestion.
  • The fruit of this Leptecophylla shrub is often used in lei-making.
  • Traditionally, the wood of leptecophylla was used in sacred ceremonies conducted in the new chief’s honor or in burning the corpses of criminals.
  • The wood of leptecophylla shrubs, or puki`awe, was also used for making Kua kuku – a special anvil for beating tapa.


Anoectochilus sandvicensis

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Asparagales Orchidaceae Anoectochilus Anoectochilus sandvicensis


This Hawaiian flower is one of the three species of Hawaiian endemic orchids. It is called a jewel orchid.

  • Like many orchid species, this is a creeping plant. The orchid’s stem can form roots at its nodes.
  • The leaves are dark green and can be seen mainly on the upper portion of the stem.
  • The flower itself is bright yellow. The flowers face downward and form clusters on a single stem.
  • This orchid can grow separately in deep shade, wet conditions, or around the lower part of the tree trunks.

Interesting facts:

  • This orchid is the most striking among the three endemic Hawaiian orchids – the other two are far less conspicuous.
  • Most orchids in Hawaii except the three already mentioned are introduced, not native species.
  • The jewel orchid became vulnerable with the introduction of honeybees that could pollinate the orchid species brought from other countries, thus increasing the competition.
  • This beautiful Hawaiian flower orchid can be easily destroyed by pigs or slugs.
  • This plant has no defined blooming season – it may flower sporadically through the year.


Vaccinium reticulatum

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Plantae Ericales Ericaceae Vaccinium Vaccinium reticulatum

Leptecophylla tameiameia

The locals call this shrub `Ohelo. This small Hawaiian shrub can go up to 4 feet in height. It has medium-sized, leathery leaves and is oval.

  • The leaves can be both smooth and hairy. The leaves edges can also vary: smooth, toothed, and even rolled under the leaves.
  • Each Hawaiian hair flower of the vaccinium plant grows separately from the leaf base.
  • Flowers may vary from red to yellow with red stripes.
  • They are tubular, about 1 and 4 inches long. The fruit is small, red, purple, or yellow, and grows in clusters.

Interesting facts:

  • This plant is a local relative of cranberry.
  • The branches of this shrub grow from underground stems called rhizomes.
  • `Ohelo has such variable leaves because there can be leaves of different ages on the same shrub: for instance, the upper part would hold adult leaves, and the lower part – juvenile leaves.
  • This plant can self-fertilize.
  • The berries of V.reticulatum were found to contain phytochemicals with high antioxidant capacities.

More Hawaiian Native Flowers

Cosmos Flower beggarticks

Bidens cosmoides, commonly called Cosmosflower beggarticks, is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. There are about 19 species in the Bidens genus.


Flower Type: Perennials
Commonly known as the rattlesnake or Calathea insignis, Calathea lancifolia is a tropical rhizomatous evergreen perennial native to Brazilian rainforests. Consequently, the flowers rarely appear on indoor plants. Currently, Calathea is a genus that includes about 60 species of flowering plants in the family Marantaceae.

When one dives into Hawaiian plants, one can see the unique landscape of these beautiful islands and the culture of people who used to spend centuries with them.

It is imperative to preserve those beautiful life forms, for they are connected both with the fragile local ecosystems and local traditions.

Cite This Page

APA7MLA8Chicago (2023, March 27). Top 17 Best Hawaiian Flowers. Bio Explorer. "Top 17 Best Hawaiian Flowers" Bio Explorer, 27 March 2023, "Top 17 Best Hawaiian Flowers" Bio Explorer, March 27 2023.
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