What comes to mind when you think of Hawaii? Waves gently crashing on the beach, pineapple, hula dancers in grass skirts and leis? Now, you don’t have to fly all the way to Honolulu in order to enjoy the exoticness of the Aloha state. Hawaiian floral arrangements can help you bring the spirit of Aloha home.
Hawaiian Tropical Flowers
Hawaii is home to a number of tropical flowers, known for their unique and visually striking shapes, colors, and strong aromas. Perhaps the most popular exotic flower is the orchid. The unique shape of the small flowers are what most people find alluring. According to the University of Hawaii Botany Department’s list of Native Plant Genera
, of the 22,000 species of orchid in the world, only three are native to Hawaii:
- Liparis hawaiensis, also known as “Awapuhiakanaloa” “twayblade” or “false twayblade”
- Platanthera holochila, also known as “Hana’ula”, the “Hawaii bog orchid” or “fringed orchid”: A small plant with egg-shaped leaves and greenish-yellow flowers on open spikes.
- Anoectochilus sandvicensis, also known as “Hono Hono”, or the “jewel orchid”: oval-shaped leaves, with flowers in loose spikes.
Unfortunately, due to a number of environmental factors, both the fringed orchid and the jewel orchid are at risk of extinction. Although twayblade is more common, growing on all of the major Hawaiian islands, the 1999 assessment by the Smithsonian Institute
indicated that the status of liparis hawaiensis is rare.
Thankfully, there are a number of types of Hawaiian flowers which remain abundant. Among the most common for creating a Hawaiian flower bouquet or Hawaiian flower arrangements are:
- Bird of Paradise: Also known as “Strelitzia” or the “Crane flower”, the bird of paradise is a blue or orange flower which often looks like an exotic bird hiding behind the plant’s leaves (hence the name). Interestingly enough, the bird of paradise tends to bloom more when potted, making it a popular house plant. Birds of paradise are often included in springtime Hawaiian floral arrangements, along with ginger plants and Anthuriums.
- Anthuriums: There are actually hundreds of species of Anthurium, making it possibly Hawaii’s most common flora. The Anthurium, which may also be called the “flamingo flower”, “flamingo lily’, “painted tongue”, “Heart of Hawaii” or “tail flower” is a tropical plant with very small flowers that grow underneath the leaves. The Anthurium is actually known for the bright red leaf that grows in the center of it, which many mistake for a flower. You may want to avoid Anthuriums if you have pets or small children around, as every part of the plant is poisonous.
- Ginger: Aside from the wonderful things that you can do with ginger root, the flowers of the ginger plant can provide an absolutely beautiful and exotic addition to any Hawaiian flower bouquet. There are a number of types of Hawaiian ginger, with some of the most common being red ginger, white ginger, and spiral gingers (Costus).
- Plumeria: Chances are when you picture Hawaii, the plumeria is somewhere in your mind. Plumeria is also known as the “lei flower”. In Hawaii, it is customary to give a lei, or wreath of flowers, as a sign of affection on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, bridal showers, and graduations. Lei are often presented to tourists entering Hawaii as a way of saying “Welcome”. Lei flowers can be found in almost every color. In addition to being pretty Hawaiian flowers, plumeria are exceptionally fragrant flowers. As a result, leis are often hung in a window or from a car’s rear view mirror to dry, letting the fragrance fill the space.
Hawaiian Floral Arrangements
Aside from being exotic and colorful, Hawaiian tropical flowers are also particularly hearty, meaning that your Hawaiian flower arrangements can be expected to last longer than a typical arrangement or bouquet. The next time you have a special occasion, and want to give a gift that stands out from the rest, consider giving a Hawaiian floral arrangement!