Our Favorite Native Hawaiian Plants

Hawaii is well known for its fruits. Everyone thinks of pineapples and coconuts when they think about Hawaii. Go to any farmers market on any of the islands and you can guarantee access to a plethora of delicious fresh fruits. Besides tasty fruits and vegetables, the Hawaiian islands are teeming with beautiful, tropical foliage. If your trip to Hawaii includes some hiking (we hope it does) you are in for a treat. Due to the tropical climate you can spot dozens of rare plants and flowers living within the gorgeous bamboo forests. Take any hiking trail and have fun trying to find the plants you remember. There are literally hundreds of plants you can study, but we suggest you find some you really like. Take a look at some of our favorite native Hawaiian plants.

red native hawaiian plant found on oahu

ʻōhiʻa lehua

Metrosideros polymorpha

If you are planning a spring trip to Hawaii you are in luck. This stunning flowering tree has been known to bloom at all times of the year, but peak season is definitely in the Spring. The stamens that make up the flower can vary in color: red, yellow, orange, pink and very rarely white. The tree, and the forests it creates, are considered sacred to the Hawaiian goddesses Pele and Laka. They can range from a stubby bush, to a 25 ft tall tree, so keep an eye out!

picture of a wiliwili tree found on Oahu


Erythrina sandwicensis

Technically another flowering tree, Wiliwili trees (probably my favorite name) are typically found in dry forests and can grow as tall as 45 ft! These podding trees grow flowers that can be green, yellow, orange, salmon, white or sometimes all of them on one tree! Keep in mind, you will need to take a summer vacation to Hawaii to see these in full bloom, and they are usually found on leeward island slopes.

the state flower of Hawaii, yellow hibiscus

Ma’o Hau Hele (Yellow Hibiscus)

Hibiscus brackenridgei

Ma’o Hau Hele, or yellow hibiscus, is the state flower of Hawaii. Blooming season for the Ma’o Hau Hele is usually Spring through the beginning of Summer. This gorgeous flower can be found in dry forests at lower elevations, but it is a protected plant due to overgrazing, so finding one won’t be easy. If you get lucky enough to come across one, please, just enjoy it where it sits.

ʻŌhai, also known as oahu river hemp


Sesbania tomentosa

The ʻŌhai, often referred to as Oahu river hemp, can come in a variety of colors depending on which island you are on. This flowering shrub can be found most commonly in low elevation brush areas, and very rarely in dry forests. Unfortunately, the popularity of the islands have caused a good portion of its natural habitat to be destroyed, so consider yourself lucky if you spot one in the wild.

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