The ornamental yellow Hawaiian hibiscus is the official Hawaii State Flower. It is distinguished by its bright yellow flowers with a reddish center, and leaves that resemble a maple leaf. The hibiscus flower, in all its varieties and colors, had been designated as the official flower of the Territory of Hawaii since way back in the early 1920's. This particular species of yellow Hawaiian hibiscus, called ma`ohauhele or hibiscus brackenridgei, was specified as the newly official State Flower in 1988.
Visitors to Hawaii will enjoy numerous colorful species of hibiscus growing prominently across the Big Island. There are seven varieties of the plant known as Hawaiian hibiscus, referring to the flowering plants considered native to Hawaii. Other varieties that are often used as ornamentals in homes and gardens have been introduced from Asia and other parts of the Pacific.
Blossoms of the yellow Hibiscus, or ma`ohauhele (mah-oh-how-hay-lay) in Hawaiian, are typically 5-6 inches across with a long yellow stamen and reddish center. Domestic hibiscus plants in gardens and around homes generally grow as shrubs anywhere from 3-12 feet tall. In their natural habitat they will sometimes grow into trees as high as 30 feet!
Blooms are most prominent in spring and early summer, but flowers can be seen throughout the year. Due to the warm Pacific climate and rich volcanic soil, many tropical flowers grow in abundance in Hawaii. Visitors will enjoy a multitude of colorful flowers of Hawaii on display throughout the year.
The yellow Hawaiian hibiscus is found only in Hawaii. It grows on all the main Hawaiian islands and grows best in areas with an abundance of sunlight. It needs very little water. Because there are so few remaining in the wild, it is also considered an endangered species.
Look for the beautiful Hawaiian yellow hibiscus growing in gardens and along roadsides particularly across the west side of the Big Island.