FLOWERS OF KAUAI & MORE: THE GARDEN ISLE
Kauai is known as a tropical paradise, and for a good reason. Home to rare species of plants and mountainous jungles, it’s no wonder why Kauai is a popular destination for tourists and nature lovers alike. One of the highlights of Kauai is its incredible selection of flowers and plantlife, which are not only beautiful but also hold cultural significance for the island’s people. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most popular flowers of Kauai and how they contribute to the island’s rich cultural heritage.
Plumeria – The Hawaiian Lei Flower
One of the most recognizable flowers of Hawaii is the plumeria. With its white and yellow petals, it’s no wonder why the plumeria is often used in Hawaiian leis. The Plumeria is believed to symbolize positivity, joy, and new beginnings. Visitors to Kauai can often find plumeria trees lining the streets and in the gardens of many hotels and resorts.
The Plumeria is not native to Hawaii but still adds plenty of beauty to the island. There are countless named varieties of this flower, each with its own unique characteristics.
Hibiscus – The State Flower of Hawaii
Another popular flower of Kauai is the hibiscus, which is the state flower of Hawaii. The hibiscus comes in many different colors, including red, yellow, orange, pink, and white. It is often said to be used in traditional Hawaiian medicine to help with colds, inflammation, stomach irritation, and a few other things.
The hibiscus is also commonly used in Hawaiian culture to symbolize beauty and joy. Some different colors and varieties are said to have different meanings as well.
Bird of Paradise – The Exotic Beauty
The bird of paradise is a stunning flower that is often used in tropical floral arrangements, with its official name being Strelitzia reginae. With its bright orange and blue petals, it’s no wonder why this flower is called the “exotic beauty.” The bird of paradise is native to South Africa but has been cultivated in Hawaii for many years. It is said to symbolize thoughtfulness and faith.
Orchids – The Most Diverse Flower Family
Orchids are some of the most diverse flowers on the planet, with over 27,000 species in the orchid family. In Hawaii, the only 3 species of Orchids that are native are the jewel orchids, the twayblade orchid, and the Hawaiian bog orchid. Orchids are often used in Hawaiian culture to symbolize beauty, refinement, and luxury. They are also commonly used in Hawaiian leis and as decorative accents in Hawaiian cuisine.
Ti Leaf – The Good Luck Charm
The ti leaf is not technically a flower, but it’s an important part of Hawaiian culture nonetheless and a worthy mention for this post. The ti leaf is often used in Hawaiian cooking, as well as in traditional Hawaiian medicine. It is also used as a good luck charm and is believed to get rid of bad energy. Visitors to Kauai can often find ti leaf plants growing along the roadside.
The Ti Leaf is also known by a few other common names, such as the good luck plant or the “baby doll ti.” It’s also not native to Hawaii and was brought when Polynesians came to the Hawaiian Islands.
Red Ginger – The Bold & Beautiful Flower
Another flower that is commonly found on Kauai is the red ginger, also known as Alpinia purpurata. This flower is characterized by its bright red color and unique shape, which resembles a cone with a protruding stamen. The red ginger is often used in Hawaiian leis and is believed to symbolize passion, wealth, and tolerance. In addition to its cultural significance, the red ginger is also prized for its medicinal properties, which include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
While it may be pretty, this native plant from Malaysia has become an invasive species on the Hawaiian islands.
Naupaka – The Story of Star-crossed Lovers
The Naupaka is a unique flower that is commonly found on Kauai’s beaches. This flower is split into two halves, with each half resembling a half-circle.
According to Hawaiian legend, the Naupaka represents the story of two lovers who were separated by the gods. The Naupaka found on the beach is said to represent the half of the flower that the woman, named Naupaka, carried with her as she left her lover behind. The other half of the flower, which is found in the mountains, is said to represent the half that her lover, named Kaui, carried with him as he searched for her. As you can probably guess, this flower represents hope and love.
Pakalana – The Fragrant Vine
Pakalana, also known as Chinese Violet, is a fragrant vine that is commonly found in Kauai. This flower is known for its sweet fragrance, which is said to be even more potent at night. It was believed to have been brought over somewhere in the middle of the 1800s from China.
While they aren’t one of the prettiest plants on this list, as most of the time it appears as a thin vine/weed. However, once the flowers start to bloom, the fragrance and appearance are charming.
Kukui Nut – The Symbol of Light & Enlightenment
While not technically a flower, the kukui nut is an important part of Hawaiian culture. The kukui nut is often used in traditional Hawaiian jewelry, as well as in lei-making. It is also significant in Hawaiian culture because it is believed to be the symbol of protection and enlightenment.
According to Hawaiian legend, the kukui nut was used to light the way for Polynesian voyagers who traveled to Hawaii many years ago
Mokihana – Kauai’s Designated Flower
The green berries, which grow exclusively in the second wettest place on earth, Mount Waialeale, are a unique treasure. They are traditionally intertwined with Maile leaf and are strung together like beads to create beautiful adornments.
Enjoy the natural beauty of Kauai!
The flowers of Kauai are not only beautiful but also hold significant cultural and historical importance. From the fragrant plumeria to the unique naupaka, each flower tells a story and adds to the rich tapestry of Hawaiian culture. Visitors to Kauai should take the time to appreciate these flowers and learn about their significance.
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