The colorful, flowering trees of Hawaii – aromatic, vivid or easy to grow varieties (update 2023)
Flowering trees around Hawaii make such a gorgeous display and impression when they bloom around the islands. From native flowering trees to more exotic Hawaiian tree specimens, the flowering trees around Hawaii create such impactful and beautiful displays that everyone loves. For the visitor or even a local, check out these popular to more exotic flowering trees of Hawaii you’ll see and be able to identify or even grow in your garden if you’re from Hawaii.
Some of these Hawaiian trees are even aromatic add quite a nice scent to the garden, check out our detailed guide below to the best flowering trees of Hawaii.
Enjoy these flowering trees in the Hawaiian landscape
You’ll find flowering trees all around the islands used for landscaping, creating year-round color, used for lei or flower displays and other health and beauty applications. The Hawaiian trees especially the scented varieties are such a beautiful part of enjoying the simple, wonderful scents and decorative trees. They are used for protection and shade, ornamental planting and even scented varieties placed in ideal locations to enjoy.
Hawaiian trees don’t come more aromatic than Plumeria trees. This is one of the most popular flowering trees in Hawaii and the beautiful flowers are aromatic and made into lei, perfumes and other displays.
Plumeria trees do well in the more arid and dry landscape of the leeward sides of the islands and thrive in the hot and almost desert like environments that bring so much color in the dryer sides of the islands.
Indigenous to Mexico and Central America, the plumeria trees adapt well to dryer and sunny environments and become small trees that bloom from April until late November. There is a big spectrum of colors from yellow, orange, pink, white, dark red to purple and a variety of hybrids that create more vibrant colors in the garden or use for lei decoration.
One of the most common trees in Hawaii, plumeria are very popular to grow on the island for its fragrant flower. Plumeria lei flowers are one of the most popular and commercially viable plant for creating different types of lei on the islands.
Here’s how to grow plumerias from simple cuttings
Native Ohia and Lehua blossoms
This Hawaiian flower tree is an indigenous tree that can easily grow out of the lava rock environment. Found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Ohia trees are part of the native forest and habitats that thrive in the poor rocky soils around the islands. More predominant on the Big Island with the massive landmass and open lava terrain, seeing the blooms of the Ohia tree and the lehua blooms inspires a whole slew of special dances, chants and songs dedicated to this special bloom and flowering native tree.
Ingrained into the island’s culture, history and story telling the Ohia and lehua blossoms are popular also in their design, lei usage and also use in landscaping. Ohia trees are a Hawaiian flower tree that grows slowly but can grow faster in their natural environment. Typically growing into a skinny and tall type of natural growth pattern into a columnar growth up to 30 feet in height.
Learn about Hawaii’s Ohia tree in Hawaii
Angel’s Trumpet – Brugmansia
This colorful and intoxicating shrub or small tree puts on such a beautiful show and also wonderful scents in the garden. Woody stems hold up pendulous flowers in yellow, peach, orange and white varieties of this beautiful and aromatic plant that blooms year round. Easy to care for but need lots of sun, water and nutrients and well draining soil to perform well in the garden and once established needs little maintenance outside of the messy blooms that accumulate from the spent flowers.
This showy perennial is stunning but it is part of the nightshade family and can be poisonous for pets so make sure they don’t eat any part of the flowers or plant.
Aromatic angel’s trumpet trees and how to grow your own from cuttings
African Tulip Trees – Spathodea Campanulata
A gorgeous display of stands of the African Tulip trees, makes such a gorgeous display which is native to Africa and has beautiful large orange, yellow, red and scarlet flowers that are tulip shaped and showy.
This perennial evergreen is fairly invasive and grows in many different Hawaiian environments from wet to lower elevation areas around the islands. They grow rapidly in the many gulches and wild terrains unchecked like the bright orange trees that grow everywhere and are a designated invasive species in Hawaii.
The yellow and red varieties are not as common and not so prevalent in the environment and typically are used in landscaping projects around the islands.
Here’s some interesting facts of the African Tulip Trees
The Hau plant is a tree hibiscus which is one of the early canoe plants brought to Hawaii and used for many different purposes. The wood used for cordage, floats and canoe supports, fire kindle wood, dyes, domestic use and then a variety of medicinal uses. Originally from tropical Southeast Asia the Hau was brought to Hawaii for its multipurpose uses.
As an ornamental plant the Hau tree has beautiful yellow flowers with deep red throats and grow in the lowland areas of Hawaii mostly in dense thickets as shrubs or can grow up to a average height of 20 feet. The blossoms only last a day but bloom year round in their crepe like blossoms.
A Hawaiian flower tree that has beautiful foliage and leaves, this striking tree or large shrub is one you should plant in the garden.
Cassia Shower trees
One of the showy flowering trees in the Hawaiian landscape, shower trees are popular and used to decorate many public gardens, large boulevards, parks and open landscape around the islands. The shower trees originate from India and South East Asian countries and have popular varieties like the Rainbow Shower trees, Golden Shower and other cassia varieties that can grow huge to a height of 35 to 7 feet in height. The showy blooms last a long time and don’t leave messy seed pod after the flowers die down and are perfect for many public spaces to private gardens around the island.
All Cassia trees growing in Hawaii are evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous depending on the type grown. The cassia flowers develop into large floral clusters before the leaflets come out. The typical cassia trees growing here on the islands are the Rainbow multi color, yellow Cassia Fistula and apple blossom, Cassia Javanica.
These trees are showy when they are in full bloom
One of the most beautiful Hawaiian flowering trees growing in Hawaii is the Jacaranda. Showing off their gorgeous purple displays in the springtime, the masses of blooms found in Maui and Wild areas of the Big Island are quite spectacular to see. Originating from South America, these tall trees grow as large as 20-40 feet and also have a wide girth and growing in the upland and cooler areas of Maui and the Big Island with big displays of purple clusters of flowers brilliantly displayed in the landscape.
The flowers are long lasting on the trees and create a striking look on the landscape and grow well in dry environments and are drought tolerant. Determined an invasive species in Hawaii, the Jacaranda tree spreads quite easily in the natural and wild environments of Hawaii.
Jacaranda trees put on such gorgeous displays in spring time in Hawaii
Royal Poinciana tree
The showy Royal Poinciana tree is also called a flame tree and has showy orchid like flowers typically in hot red to orange colors with five petals. Forming a umbrella like tree, the flowers cascade and develop into dazzling displays of hot colors on one typical main trunk.
The tree makes a good landscape plant as long as it is not close to any structure where its aggressive root structure can do a lot of damage. But the tree is popular and not an invasive species on the island. The trees are relatively fast growing making it to 5 feet per year and loose their leaves in spring instead of the fall season for most deciduous trees in Hawaii.
A showy Poinciana Tree that grows in Hawaii and many other tropical regions
Orchid trees – Bauhinia variegata
The showy Orchid trees or Bauhinia really do look like orchids sprays displayed in full bloom and have a long blooming cycle on the islands. You’ll find Orchid trees planting in public gardens, streets and parking areas and other commercial spaces creating showy displays for everyone can enjoy. The flowers do resemble orchids but have no scent and come if a variety of colors from white, purple, red and salmon colors.
Many tropical gardens and even commercial centers will have orchid trees growing because of their relatively easy maintenance. Although the spent flowers can also be messy, but can make great mulch if collected into a pile.
Gorgeous Bauhinia orchid trees
Originating from India and China, Orchid trees grow very well in Hawaii and growing in sub tropical to tropical environments this grows easily in sunny environments and well drained soil.
These Hawaiian trees are perfect for the garden with flowers that are used for a variety of leis and ornamental purposes. Puakenikeni are one of the most hardy and carefree shrub or tree with a gorgeous and scented flower that is found in almost every back yard. Originating from Australia and the North Carolina Islands and the Pacific Islands, this tree is treasured for the flowers that are used for decorative purposes and primarily lei making.
A small evergreen shrub that can easily grow up to a height of 50 feet, puakenikeni trees is fast growing in sunny and well draining environments like Hawaii. They can grow from the coastal areas and all the way to 3500 foot environments and was brought to Hawaii for ornamental purposes.
Puakenikeni trees are very popular for making leis and are really the best trees to have if you want to make some fast and easy lei for friends and family.
Fragrant Pua kenikini trees are perfect for lei
A striking yellow flowering tree in the Hawaiian environment, tabebuia are stunning to witness in Hawaii and are also called trumpet trees. They bloom for around a month early spring before the leaves finally flush out creating a green canopy. A large deciduous tree in Hawaii, the tabeuia can grow 12 inches yearly and up to a height of 40-60 feet with a large single trunk.
Growing in sunny and drought tolerant environments, Tabebuia are attractive and grow in many Hawaiian environments and typically require minimal care.
The gorgeous golden trumpet tree
Pride of Burma or Amherstia Nobilis
Definitely one of the most beautifl and exotic flowering tree on the islands is the Pride of Burma or Amherstia Nobilis.
Native to Burma and India, Amherstia Nobilis is a showy flowering tree that thrives in the humid tropics especially in Hawaii. Mature trees can grow to a height of 30-40 feet and even span a width of 40 feet and displays showy and intense red flowers with yellow accents.
The tree grows well in humid, well draining soils with consistent moister to develop, grow and produce regular blooms from the tree. The Amherstia is part of the family of Bauhinia or orchid tree which is the common name.
Here’s a little about the showy Amherstia Nobilis
Nau – Hawaiian Gardenia tree
Nau or the Hawaiian gardenia (Gardenia brighamii) is a native tree that is smaller and growing to an average height of 6 to 12 feet. The Nau resembles the other popular puakenikeni plant and used for lei and ornamental purposes. Typically grown as landscape plants into hedges or small trees the Nau has wonderful and sweet scent that is not overpowering.
Grown in sunny environments in arid to well drained soils, the plant is fast growing and can adapt to many environments in Hawaii and typically is planted in areas around public walkways or places where the flowers and scents can be easily enjoyed from the plants.
The sweet smelling Nau or Hawaiian Gardenia tree is a Hawaiian flower tree that makes a beautiful accent in a garden.
One of the most common trees in Hawaii used for low maintenance trees in the Hawaiian landscape, Bottle Brush trees originate from Australia. Also known as Callistemon, this genus of shrubs to small trees are in the family Myrtaceae. Very hardy, drought tolerant and low maintenance, they are very popular trees used commercially in many public areas, hotels, shopping centers and other venues.
The bottle brush trees are very slow growing and reaching a height of approximately 5 – 10 feet in approximately 5 years time. The compact evergreen produces dark red flowers with thick stamens throughout the year and resemble a bottle brush look.
Here’s some facts about Bottlebrush trees
Cherry Trees in Hawaii
In the cooler areas of Hawaii, cherry trees have been planted in Hawaii to celebrate the sakura festival and cherry trees growing in Hawaii. A harbinger of spring time with gorgeous cherry tree blooms, cherry trees have been planted to celebrate spring, peace and sakura enjoyment that was a part of the Japanese heritage that came to the islands to initially work the plantation farms of Hawaii. Now places like Waimea on the Big Island has a grouping of cherry trees planted by Japanese groups to celebrate peace and the sukura festival on the islands.
Cherry trees and Sakura in Hawaii
Grow these flowering trees in Hawaii
All of these trees grow well in a Hawaiian environment with some being deciduous and the remainder being evergreen year round. If you want to grow a flowering tree in your hard consider these growth habits, space considerations and your location first and sub tropical to tropical environments.
Many of these plants do get large so space consideration and location to your home and having enough rooting area away from foundations and rock walls is also important to many of these types of flowering trees.
Other beautiful botanical plants we share on our site
Scented flowers of Hawaii
There’s nothing like the gorgeous scents from Hawaii’s tropical plants that spreads fragrant blooms along the many public areas and gardens you may visit around Hawaii. If you are interested in learning more about the most fragrant and lovely flowers you’ll find, check out our post on the scented tropical plants of Hawaii here for more inspiration and images of what grows well on the islands.
Popular tropical flowers of Hawaii
Check out what the most beautiful and some scented tropical flowers that are grown here in Hawaii that are used in the many landscapes, gardens and public areas. These are typically the most colorful, beautiful textures and unique plants you’ll spot growing around the islands. Here’s our post and quick guide of the beautiful tropical flowers of Hawaii here for inspiration and images to identify and learn more about the various species grown here.
Guide to tropical fruits of Hawaii
This extensive guide to the popular and unusual tropical fruits that are grown on the islands ranges from the typical pineapple, bananas and coconuts to more exotic fruits like mangosteen, lychee, longans and the stinky durian fruit.
We share most of the tropical fruits you’ll find around the islands here for more inspiration, seasonality and taste of the fruit that you’ll find on the islands.
Check these other topics on growing and tropical plants in Hawaii
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Conclusion on flowering trees in Hawaii
Flowering trees in the landscape make such stunning color and even scent in the Hawaiian environment. Many of these are popular landscaping plants but a few have also developed as an invasive species spreading unchecked in many tropical environments of Hawaii.
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Mahalo again for visiting This Hawaii Life.
Do you think a Puakenikini Tree would survive in Central Florida. Our temperatures are similar.
Not sure, you would have to check with your local nursery groups and see if it would
I love all the many tropical flowers and trees found in Hawaii! Plumeria, jacaranda, and Royal poinciana trees are among my favorites. I visited Allerton Garden on Kauai when I visited years ago and was awed by the beauty!
There’s so much color here and the flowering trees in Hawaii really add to that vibe and enjoyment
I love flowering trees…so much more striking than flowering plants my favorite is the yellow tabebuia!!!
Yes these flowering trees in Hawaii are beautiful, now you will know how to identify them