Hibiscus - Hawaiian State Flower

Fast Facts

  • Hawaii has a flower to represent each island!
  • The most popular and official State flower is the Hibiscus flower
  • Fun Fact: In Hawaiian culture, Hibiscus is a symbol of old royalty & communicates power and respect. It’s commonly given to visitors, state officials, & tourists.
  • Botanical name: Hibiscus brackenridgei
  • Also called Pua Aloalo
  • Hawaii Flower Delivery

The Hibiscus, in many all colors and varieties, is the official territorial flower of the Hawaiian Islands, adopted in the early 1920s (although Hawaii did not accept Statehood until 1959). Near statehood, the first State Legislature adopted many of Hawaii’s symbols as part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. During this time, under-sea volcanoes which erupted thousands of years ago had formed the islands of Hawaii; and had had much effect on the flora, fauna, landscape and tidal patterns that would eventually grow, thrive and make up the island there.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the yellow Hibiscus, native to the Hawaiian Islands, was elected as the State flower of Hawaii. For this reason, you’ll see tons of older photos with the red Hibiscus, or any other color for that matter, as the state flower. You’ll also often see clothing, bathing suits and paintings with red or multi-colored Hibiscus.

The Hibiscus, found from Honolulu to Waikiki, is an ornamental flowering plant most commonly found in warm climates, especially tropical & subtropical regions. It’s a popular landscaping shrub among gardeners, & used in many cultures for various purposes including herbal tea, hair products, and even paper making! However, it’s the brazen flower of the Hibiscus that’s made it synonymous with “delicate beauty” and, hence, a popular gift throughout the world, as well as a favorite of many gardeners, horticulturist & landscapers.

There is, however, one point of contention in Hawaii…. Many locals argue that different flowers, (and colors) are used to represent different islands. So a Paradise Park local may differ about the State flower with a Waimea local… Essentially, many islands wish they were (and act as) their own states, so they made up a few rules of their own in the 1950’s.

  1. Niihau – Pupu Shell – White
  2. Kauai – Mokihana (Green Berry) – Purple
  3. Oahu – Ilima -Yellow
  4. Maui – Lokelani (Pink Cottage Rose) – Pink
  5. Molokai – White Kukui Blossom – Green
  6. Lanai – Kaunaoa (Yellow and Orange Air Plant) – Orange
  7. Kahoolawe – Hinahina (Beach Heliotrope) – Grey
  8. Big Island of Hawaii – Lehua Ohia – Red
Ilima Papa by CliffPhoto by Cliff

As mentioned before, the most common meaning of hibiscus is “delicate beauty.” This originated in England during the Victorian era when flower varieties were few and tropical flowers – such as the Hibiscus – were especially rare.

Because the Hibiscus requires the precise weather conditions to bloom into a beautiful flower, it came to mean “delicate beauty.” Japanese culture has assigned a similar meaning to the Hibiscus plant: There, it simply means “gentle.”

Source Links: