Why Is the Yellow Hibiscus Hawaii State Flower

Why Is the Yellow Hibiscus Hawaii State Flower

Hawaii, the beautiful archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean, is not only known for its stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes but also for its vibrant culture and unique flora. Among the many tropical flowers that thrive in Hawaii, the yellow hibiscus stands out as the official state flower. This article will delve into the reasons behind this prestigious title, exploring the significance of the yellow hibiscus and shedding light on its cultural and historical background.

The yellow hibiscus, scientifically known as Hibiscus brackenridgei, is native to the Hawaiian Islands. This exquisite flower, also called Maʻo hau hele in the Hawaiian language, is distinct with its large, bright yellow petals that radiate warmth and beauty. Its striking appearance, coupled with its cultural importance, made it the perfect candidate for the coveted title of Hawaii’s state flower.

The yellow hibiscus has deep roots in Hawaiian culture and history. It has been used for centuries by native Hawaiians for its medicinal properties and as a symbol of beauty. Additionally, the flower holds significant spiritual value, often associated with the goddess Pele, the Hawaiian deity of fire, lightning, and volcanoes. Its vibrant yellow hue represents the sun, symbolizing life, growth, and positivity.

However, the journey to becoming the state flower was not without obstacles for the yellow hibiscus. In the early 1920s, a campaign was launched to find a suitable state flower for Hawaii. Many flowers were considered, including the red hibiscus, the native white hibiscus, and even the ilima, which was already designated as the official flower of the island of Oahu. Ultimately, the yellow hibiscus won the hearts of the people and was officially declared the state flower in 1988, after years of lobbying and public support.

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The selection of the yellow hibiscus as the state flower was not only based on its natural beauty and cultural significance but also on its conservation status. The yellow hibiscus is an endangered species, existing in the wild on only a few islands in Hawaii. By making it the state flower, it gained legal protection and increased public awareness, helping to preserve and restore its population.


Q: Is the yellow hibiscus the only hibiscus species found in Hawaii?

A: No, Hawaii is home to several hibiscus species, including the native white hibiscus (Hibiscus arnottianus), the red hibiscus (Hibiscus kokio), and the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). However, the yellow hibiscus is the only one designated as the state flower.

Q: Can I grow yellow hibiscus in my garden?

A: Yes, you can cultivate yellow hibiscus in your garden, but it requires a warm and tropical climate. It thrives in well-drained soil and requires regular watering. However, it’s essential to ensure that it is not an endangered species in your area before planting.

Q: Are there any events or celebrations dedicated to the yellow hibiscus in Hawaii?

A: Yes, every year on September 6th, Hawaii celebrates “Hibiscus Day” to honor the yellow hibiscus. The day is filled with various activities, including hula performances, flower exhibitions, and educational programs to raise awareness about the state flower.

Q: Can I wear the yellow hibiscus as a lei?

A: Yes, the yellow hibiscus is often used to create beautiful leis, which are traditional Hawaiian garlands worn for special occasions and celebrations. However, due to its endangered status, it is recommended to use artificial flowers or other hibiscus species for leis.

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In conclusion, the yellow hibiscus holds a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians as the state flower. Its cultural significance, natural beauty, and endangered status have made it an iconic symbol of Hawaii’s unique flora. Whether admired in gardens, celebrated on Hibiscus Day, or used in traditional leis, the yellow hibiscus continues to captivate locals and visitors alike, reminding us of the rich heritage and natural wonders of the Hawaiian Islands.