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Fragrant Flowers of Hawaii

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White & Yellow Plumeria

White & Yellow Plumeria

Hawaii's Beautiful Flowers

Hawaii is known for its sandy beaches, beautiful weather, and fantastic surf. Hawaii is also home to some of the best floral fragrances in the world. In fact, many dazzling blooms that grow wild around the Hawaiian Islands have been the inspiration for countless perfumes and beauty products. If you ever get a chance to visit, don't forget to indulge in every sweet blossom you see!

Gardenia ("kiele" in Hawaiian)

Gardenia ("kiele" in Hawaiian)


During mid-spring through mid-summer, the strong scent of gardenia envelops Hawaii's neighborhoods. The large white blossoms of the gardenia plant are admired for their beauty and long-lasting fragrance. Billie Holiday, beloved jazz-starlet, declared the gardenia as her trademark and always donned the delightful blooms in her hair during performances.

Kahili Ginger

Kahili Ginger


The flowering ginger plant comes in many different varieties and each one smells divine! The most popular ginger blossom, awapuhi 'ula 'ula (red ginger), is used in many hair care products. Other varieties (such as white and yellow ginger) also grow wild in Hawaii. Its lovely perfume takes me back to the days when my father and I would pick Kahili ginger for my mother. It would only take a few stalks to make the whole house smell wonderful!

Pikake blossom and buds

Pikake blossom and buds

Pikake & Pua Male

Pikake (Arabian Jasmine) blossoms possess an enchanting scent. Because Princess Kaiulani treasured pikake flowers so much, the Hawaiian name for the flower was derived from her favorite bird (the peacock). Pua Male (Madagascar Jasmine) means "marry flower," which is why it is commonly used in Hawaiian wedding bouquets. While the blossoms of both jasmine variations are quite stunning, the tiny white buds from these plants also make intricately exquisite and highly-coveted lei.

Plumeria ("melia" in Hawaiian)

Plumeria ("melia" in Hawaiian)


The plumeria blossom is special because its intoxicating fragrance varies from tree to tree. Plumeria trees are easy to grow and will display blossoms that vary in color from bright fuchsia to white. My personal favorite is the peach-orange variety. Although plumeria blossoms are beautiful to behold, be careful when handling them. The plumeria tree produces a milky sap that oozes out when a branch, pod, or flower is broken off. Contact with this glue-like sap will irritate the eyes and skin.

Puakenikeni branch with blooms

Puakenikeni branch with blooms


The puakenikeni tree produces sweetly-scented blossoms that range in color from off-white to gold. Puakenikeni means "ten-cent flower" in honor of its lei value during the late 1800s & early 1900s. Lead Pussycat doll and Oahu-born lady, Nicole Scherzinger, even named one of her songs after the adored blossom. Although, I don't think she'll be selling her flower for a dime (lol!)

Tuberose blossom

Tuberose blossom


Tuberose, or "kupalo" in Hawaiian, is another white blossom that exudes a delectable scent. Some of the delicate blossoms are brushed with a touch of pink, yet all of the blossoms unfold in a delicate display reminiscent of a rose. Much like gardenia and jasmine blooms, tuberose flowers retain their fragrance long after they have been picked. As a result, they are widely used for lei-making and floral bouquets.

More Blooms for You...


Steve on July 02, 2020:

The yellow Plumeria grows quite well in Florida. I have one growing for around 3 years now and when it blooms the smell is like no other. A simple cutting of the host allows for fairly easy transplant. But require lots of sun. Direct sun year round to be exact !

AJ from Australia on October 02, 2016:

I live in the tropics and enjoy the same plants as you do. I love that the white flowered plants are always so aromatic - just delicious.

a on July 30, 2014:

What about puakenikeni

dennis on February 02, 2013:

Is it possible to root a big branch that breaks off a puakenikeni tree?

TattooKitty (author) from Hawaii on October 02, 2012:

Hi pstraubie48,

Thanks for reading! I think plumeria trees would do well in the Florida climate. They also come in all different colors and fragrances.

Happy gardening!!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on September 09, 2012:

TattooKitty...these flowers are amazing. I have gardenias, the velvety petals and the aroma both are a plus. I have not seen the others you have shown here...the photographs are gorgeous.

I will be checking these out to see which ones I can grow successfully in Florida.

I am sharing this hub in a hub I have written

Thank you for sharing these lovelies with us.

TattooKitty (author) from Hawaii on October 10, 2011:

Hi Rose West! Thank you for the comment! Pikake is my favorite too ;) I'm addicted to TerraNova pikake lotion because it smells absolutely divine!!

Rose West from Michigan on October 10, 2011:

This is a very cool hub! I really enjoyed all the background info on these lovely flowers. Plumeria and pikake are my favorites :)

TattooKitty (author) from Hawaii on October 10, 2011:

Thanks suziecat! Gardenia really is a beautiful plant ;)

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on October 09, 2011:

I'm a huge fan of gardenia, both the flower and the scent. This is a great Hub - Rated up and I'm a fan.

TattooKitty (author) from Hawaii on October 07, 2011:

Hi Vicki, thank you for your kind comment! A smell application would be awesome!! These lovely flowers should definitely be enjoyed by all!!

Sojourner McConnell from Winchester Kentucky on October 07, 2011:

With such a variety of beautiful flowers, no wonder people flock there. I had not seen these flowers before and I really enjoyed reading about them. I was wishing someone had invented some type of smell application so that I could see how they smell. Thank you for such a pretty hub.