Being given flowers from Hawaii, whether they are in the form of a floral arrangement, a bouquet or especially a lei always makes for a special gift of Aloha. The Aloha State’s warm but temperate climate, fertile soil, clean air and abundance of rainfall often make it an ideal place for exotic flowers to bloom and thrive. Hawaii has a diverse range of flowers of all kinds; but there is a universal commonality for almost all of them, which is: almost all of them are not originally from Hawaii. They were all at some time brought into Hawaii where they have found themselves an ideal home. Here is a sampling of some of the most popular and well-known ones.
Protea – This flowering plant was originally introduced into the island of Maui in the mid-1980s and was imported from South Africa as well as from Australia. These unusually looking, but stunningly beautiful, flowers with brightly colored stamens and pistils are known for their ability to last a long time in a vase or even when they are dried, and because of that, have become a very popular flower that is exported to many places in the world.
Bird of Paradise – This popular ornamental plant is originally from the Cape of Good Hope area of South Africa. It is so called because its brightly colored and ornate flower resembles al bird that would come from a tropical area. Even though it does not share a close resemblance, it is a close relative of the banana plant. This plant is popular in Hawaii and can be found growing and thriving in the home of many local residents.
Heliconia – This popular ornamental plant is related to the bird of paradise and the banana plant; but is originally from South and Central America. The plant, which is sturdy and can last a long time after they are cut and displayed in vases, can grow up to 6 feet tall. Like the bird of paradise, you can find a number of the 22 species found in Hawaii growing in the yards of many local residents.
Anthurium – This plant with its waxy and glossy flower was brought to Hawaii in the late 1800 from, of all places, England. It can last very long in a vase, making it very popular as a flower arrangement. While the flower can last a relatively long time, the plant needs a lot of water and requires protection from the sun and wind. The anthurium is one of Hawaii’s biggest exported flower and nursery products.
Pikake – This fragrant flower, otherwise known as the jasmine, is a very popular flower in Hawaii, particularly for lei-making. The plant is originally from India. When used in lei-making in Hawaii, its buds, rather than the bloomed flowers, are used. Typically, a number of pikake strands are combined in a lei with a greater number of odd numbered strands indicating how popular or important the recipient is to the one giving the pikake lei. In Hawaii, pikake leis are usually given to female prom dates.
Ginger – Is another fragrant flower with a lovely lingering scent used in lei making. The plant is originally from eastern India. As they are very delicate, much skill is needed to make leis from the ginger plant. Furthermore, because they do not last very long and because of the effort required to make them into leis, those who receive them in the form of leis can well appreciate their transitory beauty as well the skill and patience that went into making them.