The Hawaii State Flower is a beautiful ornamental known as yellow Hawaiian hibiscus. It is distinguished by its large and full bright yellow flowers with a reddish center, and leaves that resemble a maple leaf.
Visitors to Hawaii will enjoy numerous colorful species of hibiscus growing prominently across the Big Island. There are seven varieties of the plant known as Hawaiian hibiscus, referring to the flowering plants considered native to Hawaii. There are other varieties that are similar in appearance to the Hawaiian hibiscus that are often used as ornamentals in homes and gardens, but most of these have been introduced from Asia and other parts of the Pacific.
The hibiscus flower, in all its varieties and colors, had been designated as the official flower of the Territory of Hawaii since way back in the early 1920’s. The particular species of yellow Hawaiian hibiscus, called ma`ohauhele or hibiscus brackenridgei, was specified as the newly official State Flower in 1988.
Ma’ohauhele (mah-oh-how-hay-lay) is the Hawaiian term for yellow Hibiscus. It literally means “green traveling introduced hibiscus”, perhaps due to the way the flowers turn green as they dry out. Blossoms are typically 5-6 inches across with a long yellow stamen and reddish center. The blossoms form as single flowers, but are sometimes seen in clusters at the end of the branch. There are sharp spines around the base of the plant.
Domestic hibiscus plants in gardens and around homes generally grow as shrubs anywhere from 3-12 feet tall. In their natural habitat they will sometimes grow into trees as high as 30 feet! They grow best in areas with an abundance of sunlight and need very little water.
Blooms are most prominent in spring and early summer, but flowers can be seen throughout the year. Due to the warm Pacific climate and rich volcanic soil, many tropical flowers grow in abundance in Hawaii. Visitors will enjoy a multitude of colorful flowers of Hawaii on display throughout the year.
The yellow Hawaiian hibiscus is found only in Hawaii. While it grows on all the main Hawaiian islands, it is extremely rare. Because there are so few remaining in the wild, it is considered an endangered species.
Look for the beautiful yellow Hawaiian hibiscus growing in gardens and along roadsides across the The Big Island, particularly on the west side of the island where there is plenty of sunshine.