Fragrant Flowers of Hawaii

Updated on February 27, 2020
White & Yellow Plumeria
White & Yellow Plumeria

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 weddings 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.


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    • profile image


      9 days ago

      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 !

    • Rangoon House profile image


      3 years ago from Australia

      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.

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      What about puakenikeni

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • TattooKitty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      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!!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from North Central Florida

      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 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      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 profile image

      Rose West 

      8 years ago from Michigan

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

    • TattooKitty profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks suziecat! Gardenia really is a beautiful plant ;)

    • suziecat7 profile image


      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      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 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hawaii

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

    • vicki goodwin profile image

      Sojourner McConnell 

      8 years ago from Winchester Kentucky

      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.


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