What Is The Hawaii State Flower?

The yellow hibiscus has yellow petals with a reddish center.
The yellow hibiscus has yellow petals with a reddish center.

Hawaii is a US state located in Oceania, within the central Pacific Ocean. The state is made up of a series of islands that are part of a volcanic archipelago, covers a total area of 10,931 square miles, and had a population of 1,427,538 in 2017. Hawaii has numerous official state symbols, including a state bird (Hawaiian goose), state fish (rectangular triggerfish), and state insect (Kamehameha butterfly). Additionally, the state flower of Hawaii is the yellow hibiscus, which is a type of Hawaiian hibiscus.

The Hawaiian hibiscus includes seven species of hibiscus that are native to Hawaii, but the Hibiscus brackenridgei or yellow hibiscus, in particular, is the state flower. The flower grows on all Hawaiian islands except two. However, the flower is slowly becoming endangered in its natural habitat. The flowers generally blossom from spring through to early winter, although in some places the flowers are in bloom all year round. The hibiscus plant requires very little water and thrives well in Hawaii's warm climate.

Description of the Hawaiian Hibiscus

Petals of the Hawaiian hibiscus are usually large, opened, and bright in color. The official state flower has bright yellow petals, although occasionally the center part of the petals are characterized by a reddish or maroon color. The flowers have a diameter of between 4 and 6 inches, while the leaves are lobed at the edges and are approximately 6 inches long. The flower's staminal tube stands out from the petals. The flowers do not blossom in large clusters, but rather form singly, or in small clusters at the tip of the branches, and typically open between 2 PM and 4 PM and close before the end of the afternoon. The Hawaiian hibiscus grows in shrubs.

Why Is the Hawaiian Hibiscus the State Flower?

The state flower of Hawaii was initially a Hawaiian hibiscus of any species or color. When Hawaii became part of the United States in 1959, the state legislature adopted the Hawaiian hibiscus as the state flower. However, many Hawaiians assumed the red hibiscus was the state flower until the yellow hibiscus was officially declared the state flower on June 6, 1988. It is the only species of hibiscus with yellow petals. In Hawaiian culture, the flower represents old royalty, power, and respect, and is often presented to visitors, especially state officials, upon their arrival to the state. 

Uses of the Hawaiian Hibiscus

The Hawaiian hibiscus is widely used as an ornamental plant and is grown in many home gardens and balconies within Hawaii. The flower's petals are edible and can be used as garnishing or dried and eaten in various parts of the world. Hibiscus tea can be made from the different species of the flower and has been known to be effective in treating several ailments, including headaches. Parts of the plant, such as the bark, are used in paper making industries. In many cultures around the world, the flower symbolizes delicate beauty and is therefore commonly given as a gift.


More in World Facts