June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.
Flowers and Plants of Hawaii
The beauty of the Hawaiian Islands is not only due to the abundance of flowers and plants but also to the vast varieties of species that the Hawaiian Islands have evolved to.
Some species are indigenous to the islands while the majority have been imported, but they all flourish in harmony in the near perfect weather conditions with the nearly perfect nutrient-rich volcanic soil.
Welcome to a minuscule example of the floral beauty of Hawaii.
Hawaii State Flower - Yellow Hibiscus
The Yellow Hibiscus - Pua Maò-hau-hele
The yellow hibiscus is now the state flower of Hawai'i, but it wasn't always so.
Many people are confused over this fact as the native white hibiscus was adopted as the territorial flower 2 May 1923, by the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii, and approved by W. R. Farrington, the Governor of the Territory of Hawaii.
The indigenous white hibiscus mutabilis, known as pua aloalo (hibiscus flower) changed from white to pink to red during the day, so many thought that the red hibiscus was the official territory flower.
In 1959, when Hawai'i became a state, the red hibiscus became the official state flower and it was not until 1988 when the yellow hibiscus flower was then chosen as the official state flower.
It was 6 June 1988, that the Hawaii Legislature adopted the native yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei), also known as the maò-hau-hele, as the "official flower of the State."
Every island is represented by a different flower.
Hibiscus Can Be Seen Every Where in Vibrant Colors - Some species of hibiscus were imported from Asia and have cross pollinated with the native indigenous hibis
Island of Hawaii - Ohi`a Lehua
The Island of Hawaii is represented by the Ohi`a lehua, also known as the pua lehua, and is the blossom of the Ohia tree and is usually red, but sometimes yellow.
The Ohi'a tree is the first tree to rebirth itself from the lava and is known as Pele's unrequited love. There is a legend of the handsome Ohi'a and the beautiful Lehua that I will tell you later.
Yellow Lehua Blossom - Pua Mele Kapa
Usually, the lehua blossoms of the Ohi'a are a bright scarlet red, but they are known to also bloom a pale shade of yellow (shown), white and occasionally an orange blossom.
The Ohi'a Tree
The Ohi'a tree usually has a gnarled, twisted grey trunk with thick peeling bark like the one in the photo above. They start out looking like little desolate, windswept bushes growing in the lava fields.
The very old trees will reach heights of over 80 feet with very, very thick twisted trunks like the one pictured below. These tree trunks, when cut down and cured make the most beautiful, decorative and fascinating log poles for homes with their lovely twisted trunks.
Ancient Twisted Ohia Tree
Island of Maui - Lokelani
The lokelani or rose is the flower that represents the island of Maui. To be more specific, it is the damask rose (rosa damascena).
The damask rose is very popular on the island of Maui, in fact, it is so popular for a long time it was called the "Maui Rose".
For centuries, it grew wild along the roadsides of Ulupalakua and was the very first rose grown on McKee's Ulupalakua Rose Ranch. It became the official island flower in 1923.
This photo of the damask rose and tuberose lei is courtesy of The Hawaiian Lei Company who make the most gorgeous leis and will ship to the mainland.
Lokelani Haku Lei
Island of O'ahu - Pua `ilima
The 'ilima flower represents the island of Oahu and is from the indigenous dodder shrub (sida fallax)which is a close cousin to the hibiscus family.
The 'ilima flowers are very small in comparison to a hibiscus as they are only about an inch in width and they are paper thin. The flowers are so delicate that it takes around 500 blossoms to make one lei. When strung, they make beautiful yellow-orange leis that are stunning when worn against a black background.
The blossoms are also used for medicine. The juice squeezed from the blossoms are used as a mild laxative for babies to relieve gas and is called kanaka-maika'i. We also use it as a pregnancy tonic that promotes a strong immune system and eases the pain of childbirth.
Island of Kaua`i - Mokihana
The mokihana that represents the Island of Kaua'i comes from the native endemic bush (pelea anisata).
The only place in the world that this plant is found is on the slopes of Mount Waialelae on the island of Kaua'i and in the rainforest of the Big Island of Hawaii.
It is from the Rutaceae (citrus) family.
Mokihana and Maile Lei
The mokihana really isn't a flower, but a small leathery, cubed shaped fruit with an anise scent.
The fruit berries change colors from green to brown. It grows on a shrub with thin, leather-like, elliptic, opposite leaves that are strongly pungent with anise scent. The scent is sometimes retained for years, in the dry wood as well as in the berries.
It was once one of the ancient Hawaiians favorite perfumes. The twigs and berries were dried and placed between the folds of their kapa (tapa) cloth.
Island of Moloka'i - Pua Kukui
The pua kukui represents the island of Moloka'i and is also known as the candlenut tree (aleurites moluccana).
The silvery, light green leaves and the small white flowers are either woven or strung into leis and represent the island of Moloka'i, but the nut of the kukui tree are what is really valuable in Hawaiian culture.
Hawaiian Pua Kukui Lei
Hawaiian Kukui Nut Lei
The Kukui Nut Tree Had Many Uses
The creamy white kernel of the kukui nut is very oily and in the days of old, the oil was used not only for polishing but also for lighting the torches and later for the lamps and kukui hele po (lanterns).
The soft wood was carved out for canoes, the gum from the bark of the tree was used as dye to paint the kapa cloth and for tattooing; the shells of nut and the roots of the tree were used to make black dye.
To this day, we still use the roasted nut as a very tasty seasoning called inamona and every part of the tree is still used effectively for medicinal purposes. The kukui nuts are also polished, strung into leis and used for jewelry.
Island of Lana'i - Kauna`oa
The kauna`oa, that represents the island of Lana'i, is also known as the native dodder (cuscuta sandwichiana). It is a rare species that can be very difficult to find.
The kauna`oa really isn't a flower at all.
It is actually an air plant that is a parasitic twining vine. The yellow and orange strands that grow from the vine are used in lei making.
The yellowish flowers of the plant grow in tiny clusters along the stems and are only 1/16 of an inch.
As you can see from Ron Gingerich's photo on the right, the flowers are like little nubs on the orange colored strands.
It grows in coastal areas with sandy soils at elevations ranging from sea level to 975 feet. It parasitizes a variety of other indigenous and endemic plants on all of the main Hawaiian islands except Kaua'i and Kaho'olawe.
Kauna`oa Lei Making
On the left, you can see the kauna`oa being cleaned to get it ready to make a lei. In the parades, the pa`u riders look so beautiful wearing these leis with their bright orange pa`u
Island of Ni'ihau - Kahelelani
The island of Ni'ihau is represented by not a flower lei, but a lei made from tiny white shells found only on the island of Ni'ihau called Kahelelani. They are also referred to as Ni'ihau shells, pupu (small bit), or incorrectly as laiki (rice) and momi (pearl) shells.
The island of Ni'ihau is very arid and doesn't get enough rainwater to support the growth of the beautiful flowers that are abundant on the other islands. Because of this the highly valued Ni'ihau shell was chosen to represent the island instead.
The laiki and momi, although still very small, are actually larger shells and can also be found on the island of Kaua'i. In comparison, a double strand choker of kahelelani will require 600-700 shells as opposed to about 250 for a double strand of momi shells.
Niihau Shell Leis
Ni'ihau Shell Leis Are Very Rare
Most kahelelani shells used today are from Kaua'i and are called Kaua'i kahelelani because the true Ni'ihau kahelelani are so tiny and so rare they are very costly with prices that compete with very high-quality gems.
They range in color from a very light brown, almost white, to reddish-tan and very rarely a tannish pink.
The making of Ni'ihau shell leis is a very tedious process indeed. On a good day of shell picking, a skilled picker might harvest a film canister of prime quality kahelelani shells in about four hours.
All this time is spent on hands and knees or lying in the sand. People are always shocked when they discover that these shells are all hand picked one at a time.
The true Ni'hau shells are not only rare because they only grow around the one island, but also because Ni'ihau is a privately owned island that no one is allowed to visit.
It is home to a mere 226 of mostly pure Hawaiian residents. The people that live there may leave if they want to, but if they do leave, they are not allowed to return.
The people of Ni'ihau still live in the traditional Hawaiian way and are are not governed by any country, only by the owners of the island, the Robinson family. The shells are occasionally brought from the island when supply boats visit the other islands for supplies.
Once the Robinsons purchased the island in 1864, they made a commitment to the maintenance of the Hawaiian culture.
In ancient Hawaiian history, only the highest members of Hawaiian society such as the Ali'i and Kahuna could wear Kahelelani shells.
The shells have been written about in the journals and books of early western visitors. In 1873, Isabella Bird wrote in her book, "Six Months in the Sandwich Islands", "Niihau is famous for the necklaces of shells six yards long as well as for the extreme beauty and variety of the shells which are found there." These lengths are now a very rare sight indeed.
Island of Kaho'olawe - Hinahina
The island of Kaho'olawe is represented by the hinahina (Heliotropium anomalum var. argenteum) also called beach heliotrope.
Hinahina means gray or grayish. The Hawaiians gave this same name to other plants that were gray or grayish in appearances, such as the silver sword and the Spanish moss.
Soon after the Spanish Moss was introduced to Hawaii around 1920, the Hawaiians fashioned a lei from it.
Because the plant reminded them of kauna'oa in texture, they used the same techniques to make the lei hinahina as was used for the lei kauna'oa.
The Hawaiians named Spanish moss, 'umi'umi o Dole, meaning Dole's beard.
It was named for the famous gray beard of Sanford B. Dole, first and only president of the Hawaiian Republic. He was also the cousin of James Dole, founder of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company on Oahu in 1851.
Pele's Hair ~ Spanish Moss
Another name given to Spanish moss is Pele's Hair.
This is the common name that most people in Hawaii know it as today.
It's official Latin name is Tillandsia usneoides (growing like hair on statue head).
Regardless of the name you want to call it, Pele's Hair is not a moss at all.
It is an air plant that grow in the trees, hanging from tree branches, but it does not rely on the tree branches for its nutrients. It is an epiphytic plant from the Bromeliaceae family.
In ceremonies and parades, Pele's Hair is almost always substituted for the native hinahina to represent the island of Kaho'olawe since it is easier to get Spanish moss than it is to get the endemic hinahina.
Kaho`olawe Pa'u Rider
See the hinahina lei of the Kaho`olawe Pa'u Rider, Princess Marisa Kaleohano. She is also wearing Pele's Hair in her leipo'o (head lei) and in the horses haku lei (open braid garland).
Everyone Can Kokua
The word kokua means help in Hawaiian.
Everyone can do their part to kokua in reducing landfill waste by refusing plastic bags in the grocery stores.
Buy several reusable canvas tote bags to use instead. Better yet, buy your totes with Hawaiian floral designs. Everyone will love your bags and want to know where you got them!
This is a great looking and sturdy canvas tote bag with Hawaiian hibiscus print straps. It has plenty of room to fill with groceries with a front pocket to hold your coupons. Pretty cool, huh?
King Kamehameha I Statue Covered in Leis
Lei Making in Hawaii
Lei making, the stringing, weaving or braiding of flowers and plants, to form a garland or wreath, has long been a cultural art of Hawaii and has as many diverse meanings as there are occasions to wear them. The history and uses of lei's in Hawaii is a book in itself and will have to be covered at another time.
Instead, we will visit a few of the thousands of varieties of flowers and plants that are used in Hawaii to create our leis, decorate our homes and adorn our bodies.
Plumeria Is Very Popular Flower for Lei Making in Hawai'i
The plumeria, or frangipani, is one of the most common flowers in Hawaii, yet come in a wide variety of colors and hues and sizes and shapes.
Even the trees that they grow on can vary with their growth patterns.
The exotic scent of the plumeria is intoxicating and the flowers will hold up very well as single, double or triple leis.
Plumerias could have arrived in the Hawaiian Islands through the Spanish vaqueros, but no one really knows for sure.
That is the best guess since the vaqueros, brought much of their culture to the Big Island of Hawaii. They also brought along their ranching skills and taught the paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) how to better manage the long-horned cattle that had been gifted to King Kamehameha I.
Plumerias Comes in a Variety of Colosr and Shapes
A Few Varieties of Hawaii's Orchids
White Hawaiian Orchid
The orchid is an elegant flower and there are thousands of varieties of orchids grown in Hawaii, some of which are cultivated and some of which grow wild.
Read this article by Jeanette Foster about the Hawaiian Orchids:
Some have soft, fragile petals that delicately curl into scalloped edges. Some have shocking colors, purples so dark they look chocolate, yellows so bright they are practically neon and pinks so vivid that the sunset pales in comparison.
Some have big fleshy petals, others pointy or spiny ones and some resemble creatures from outer space. Some have intoxicating fragrances that will linger in your dreams.
They all are classified as Orchidaceae, the orchid family, one of the biggest families in the entire plant kingdom. Found worldwide (except Antarctica and arid deserts of Eurasia), these exotic plants have fascinated man since Theophrastus, the father of botany (ca. 371 - 287 BC), who first described the flowers, which he called Orchis, in his botanical work, Enquiry into Plants.
Fresh Hawaiian Lei - Double White Orchid Lei
Thousands of Orchid Species
There are so many orchids in the world, that scientists, botanists and orchid hunters are still discovering new ones in exotic tropical regions. No one really knows how many orchids there are: some say there are 15,000 different species and others argue no, there are 25,000 different species, some claim 400 different genera, which is disputed by another faction who puts the number closer to 800.
"Lots of people think cattleyas originally came from Hawaii." said "Mr. Orchid" of the Big Island, Miroyasu Akatsuka, of Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, referring to the large petal flower, frequently used in corsages.
Although people think of orchids as being native to the Hawaii, actually only four species are endemic to the islands and all of them are so inconspicuous that they are considered uninteresting in the world of commercial ornament orchids.
Unique Varieties of Hawaiian Orchids
Haku Lei Po'o
Colorful Mixed Double Dendrobium Orchid Lei
Dendrobium orchids are the most common variety used for lei making.
These orchids are sturdy, and a perfect shape for stringing. They can be strung both through the center of the flower or sideways for double leis.
They are also used by tying on a backing for a haku lei po'o (woven head lei) like the one pictured on the right. This is the traditional style of ancient Hawaiian lie making, passed down by our ancestors.
Many modern day brides prefer to wear haku leis for their weddings.
Dendrobium orchids will last up to four days after delivery and can be "revived", if excessive heat makes them limp, by floating them in cool water for 10 minutes. The leis can then be rolled in newspaper and kept under refrigeration until needed.
Dendrobium orchids are available in white, purple, green, and lavender blossoms.
Bride Wearing Haku Lei Po'o (Woven Head Lei)
Vanda Orchids Lei
Vanda Orchid Miss Joaquim Hawaiian Starter Plant
Deluxe Feather Vanda Orchid Lei
The Vandaceous or vanda orchid is the variety that has been the most popular for orchid leis for the last 50 years. The flowers have beautiful lavender petals with a gold throat.
The Lani lei is strung sideways so the throat shows while the Maunaloa lei is made of the lips only. Unfortunately, the Lani is a little more fragile in the outer petals than the dendrobium orchid and all Vanda leis will turn white if exposed to too much heat.
The simple genus Vanda contains many species represented by large handsome plants and with a wide variety of beautiful colors in the flowers. Some of the colors of the vanda include yellow, orange, pink, gold, and white with a variety of colors in the spotted variety too.
When it comes to the vanda orchid and growing, the vanda's are considered sun-worshipers. They like humidity. They need misting and when their roots go white they need water. The roots can be submerged and soaked in a bucket of water.
They are natives of India, the Philippines, and some Pacific islands. They will not thrive without adequate sun, and they must have corresponding amounts of heat and water. Care must be exercised to keep water from remaining in the growing crown.
Caring For Your Vanda Orchid Plant
How to Re-Pot Vanda Orchids
Hawaii Awapui - Ginger Flowers
Ginger Flowers in Hawaii
Awapui (the ginger genus) is another flowering plant in Hawaii popular for lei making and beauty products.
These are a few of the thousands of ginger species that grow in Hawaii. These are some of the most common that you will find growing wild in the rain forest or along the roadways. They are picked and made into gorgeous leis.
The genus includes a wide variety of species, over 1300, none of which are indigenous to Hawaii. They were brought to Hawaii from India and the Himalayas.
The yellow, orange and white varieties are the most fragrant, that I am aware of, and the most popular for lei making.
When you are walking through one of Hawaii's tropical rainforest and come across a grove of wild white ginger the fragrance of the flowers creates a heady, intoxicating sensation that permeates one's whole being.
The juice of the ripe seed heads extracted as a shampoo and skin lotion additive.
Hawaiian floral lei makers use the wide variety of ginger species growing in Hawaii to create their gorgeous native Hawaiian haku leis.
The flowers are woven and braided along with other flower species, endemic native Hawaiian plants, berries and ferns.
White Single Ginger Lei
White Ginger Leis
This is a photo of a flat style white ginger lei. The blossoms are very delicate and do not last long, but the heady fragrance is heavenly.
I love the triple ginger leis shown in the photo below. The triple leis will last a bit longer than the single leis.
Triple White ginger Lei
A Few of the Wild Ginger Flower Varieties Growing in Hawaii's Tropical Rain Forests - Used for Leis and Flower Arrangements
Hawaiian Pikake Flower
Pikake is the Hawaiian name for the jasmine blossom which is one of our favorite leis for a bride.
The pikake leis have an elegant look and a heavily scented blossom. The lei strands are often entwined with maile vines, strands of pakala or multiple pikake lei strands are joined together by twisting, giving the impression of multiple strings of pearls.
When a pikake lei is made, they string the closed buds. The pikake buds will open when they are not kept refrigerated, releasing their heady, addictive fragrance. The blossoms are very fragile and the flowers and leis will only last for one day.
There are about a dozen Jasminum species grown in Hawaii as ornamentals. The name is adapted from the word "peacock," because Princess Kaiulani loved both the flower and the bird.
Multi Strand Pikake Lei
True Hawaiian Gardenia - Nanu or Na'u
The Hawaiian Gardenia
The true Hawaiian gardenia (Gardenia brighamii) known as nanu (white Hawaiian gardenia) or the na'u (yellow Hawaiian gardenia) is endemic to Hawaii. That means that it is native to Hawaii. A few years ago it could still be found on a few of the Hawaiian islands. It has since been classified as near extinction.
Only six populations are still known to be on the islands of Moloka`i, O`ahu, and Lana`i totaling about 15 to 19 individual trees; it was once found also on Maui and Hawai`i but is believed to be gone as they haven't been spotted in the wild since 1955.
The Tahitian Gardenia (shown on right) is very similar in looks to the Hawaiian gardenia (Gardenia taitensis).
The Tahitian gardenia petals are more pointed towards the end, instead of rounded, and the petals are longer than the Hawaiian gardenia.
It is an evergreen tropical shrub native to the South Pacific and is one of the few cultivated plants native to Polynesia. The funny thing about its name is it is neither endemic nor naturalised in Tahiti. The bush originated in Micronesia and Western Polynesia.
They have the wonderful scent gardenias are so well known for and are worn in the hair behind the ear by many women in Hawaii. If you are taken you wear in on the left. If available it is worn on the right. If a cluster is worn on the back of the head it means "follow me".
The Common Gardenia
The common gardenia (Gardenia jasminoidesis) is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, and Australia.
An odd fact about the gardenia bloom is that even though the bloom is white, the faded blooms turn yellow and are used as a yellow dye. The dye is still used to dye fabric and food (including the Korean mung bean jelly called hwangpomuk). The petals can also stain clothing yellow when worn as a lei and is difficult to remove.
The common garden gardenia is often referred to incorrectly as a double gardenia.
Gardenia Bud Lei
Gardenias Come in Several Varieties
Large Fragrant Gardenia Plant in a Woven Basket
A Live Tropical Flowering Gardenia Plant! This tropical plant is the same white flowers used to create Hawaiian Gardenia Leis! This flowering plant gives off an intoxicating scent.
You can cut them for beautiful flower arrangements, wear them in your hair or string a lei with the blossoms. It would make a lovely gift!
I bought mine when I was living in Arizona a couple of years ago. Mine grew fairly quick when the weather was warm and sunny so be prepared with larger pots to transplant it every few months. In 4 months time, mine tripled in size and was covered in blooms.
When I first got it did not have any blooms.
I transplanted mine each time it got too top-heavy for its pot. They need sun and humidity and since Arizona is a dry heat I misted my plant several times a day. When I left Arizona I left it with a friend and it was huge.
Favorite Hawaiian Flower
Hawaii has so many beautiful flowers and plants that it is hard for me to decide which one I like the best. Can you decide? To keep it simple I will only list a few island favorites that you can vote on just for fun.
Pakalana Le and Blossoms
Pakalana (Telosma cordata), also known as Chinese violet, fragrant telosma, Tonkin creeper, cowslip creeper, Chambangi, Fragancia nocturna and Parfum nocturne.
The plant is an evergreen, woody vine. The blossoms start as a greenish yellow, but when fully open they turn to a pale orange color.
As kids, we use to see it growing over fences everywhere during the summer months and whenever we need to make a quick lei we could run out and fill a paper bag with the blossoms to string a beautiful highly fragrant lei.
A common combination for an elegant aromatic lei are strands of pikake twisted with strands of pakalana.
Lei Pakalana - 1940s Hawaiian Song Performed by the Kingston Trio as Sweet as the Flower
Pua Kalaunu - Crown Flower
Crown Flower - Pua Kalaunu
Crown Flower Leis
Hawaiian Crown Flower - Pua Kalaunu
The crown flower is a native to Malaysia and Indonesia but is treasured in Hawaii.
For one, they are home to monarch butterflies and secondly they make beautiful leis that will last for several days with care.
Some say that the butterfly was named the "Monarch" because of their love of feasting on the crown flower plant. They also love to feed on the echinacea species of purple crown flower.
No one really knows for sure how they got to the islands, but the consensus is that they came with the early Hawaiians from Tahiti.
The colors of the flowers range from a pure snowy white to a creamy white to various shades of pale blues and lavenders. When the flowers are strung into leis (see below) they resemble miniature crowns.
As pretty and regal as the crown flower may be in appearance, they carry no fragrance so are often strung along with more fragrant blossoms such as pikake or intertwined with fragrant leis such as maile.
The leis of the crown flower (calotropis gigantea) were a favorite lei of Queen Liliuokalani and Princess Pauahi. They were often seen wearing long strands of the blossoms.
Monarch Butterfly Feeding on Crown Flower
Often you will see the Monarch's colony feasting in the branches of the crown flower bushes.
Bright jade green chrysalises with flecks of gold can be seen adorning the branches of the bushes like Chinese jade earrings dotted with flecks of gold.
When the sun reflects at just the right angle, they look like little green jewels dancing in the sunlight suspended in the air. The bushes do grow quite large and up to a height of 7 feet.
A closer look reveals the monarch caterpillars munching away at the leaves filling up before make their metamorphosis journey.
Hawaiian Tuberose - Kupaloke
Tuberose in Hawaii
Kupaloke, the Hawaiian word for tuberose, is an important flower in Hawaii for lei making because of it's heavy perfumed scent. Many flowers will begin losing their scent as soon as the flowers are picked but the tuberose, like jasmine, has a heady floral scent that continues to produce itself long after it has been picked and continues even with the flowers have dried and turned brown.
Commonly you will see tuberose strung in a lei combined with orchids, however, it is a flower that can be pair with any less scented flower.
Tuberose is a favorite for weddings along with the maile, pikake, and crown flower.
Beautiful haku lei po'os (braided head leis) are often created for the bride with a combination of tuberose, pikake and baby pink rose buds to be worn on her head. Both the bride and groom are adorned with multiple stands of leis.
The healing properties of tuberose are well known in the islands. The essential oils of the flower are expensive and many times hard to find in the mainland so many island visitors look for it when they come to Hawaii.
The tuberose is a night-blooming plant introduced to Hawaii through Mexico.
Tuberose, Jade, and Orchid Lei
The jade vine is a most unusual flowering vine that grows primarily in the rain forest, but can be seen in local yards everywhere in Hawaii.
The beautiful turquoise, claw shaped flowers are another favorite for lei making and at times appear almost neon-like or iridescent against the dark backdrop of the forest density.
The vine resembles a climbing pea vine with blossoms that hang in grape-like clusters, reaching lengths of four to five feet. The vine itself will grow, similar to wisteria, covering trellises, but at a much more rapid pace.
When the plant is cultivated in bright sunlight, it looses some of its neon qualities, but is still a beautiful muted turquoise color, with various shades of pale green to light lavender, to deep purple, at the base of the flower.
Red Jade Vine
There is one red variety (shown on right) that is an endemic vine (Strongylodon ruber) that grows wild in the forest areas of all the islands, except Lanai. This vine, the nuku 'i'iwi (beak of the 'i'iwi honeycreeper bird) usually has a deep red-orange to an exquisite deep scarlet color, and flowers similar to the New Guinea Creeper.
In ancient Hawaii, the flowers were used exclusively for leis for the ali'i (royalty), and the Kahuna (priest).
The vine was considered sacred to the hula goddess Laka and to her sister Kapo. With the kapu'ai system at the time, only those in the gods favor (ali'i and Kahuna) were of a high enough caliber to warrant wearing a sacred item.
The jade vine, or strongylodon macrobotrys, is native to the Luzon forest in the Philippine Islands, and was first introduced to Hawaii in 1950 Robert and John Allerton. They brought two plants with them, one of which was given to Fosters Botanical Gardens in Honolulu, which flourishes to this day.
The blooming season is usually from January to March but has been known to last much longer, mainly dependent on the weather conditions.