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Hawaiian Plants


Native and Introduced Plants of Hawaii

 

The year-round tropical climate of the Hawaiian islands has provided a fertile ground for the evolution of numerous native species as well as the spread of exotic ornamentals. Below are some of the common flowering and fruiting trees of Hawaii. We have seeds available for many of these plants, just click on "order seeds" to find out more!

 

Exotic Fruits


Allspice

Pimentia dioica

 

The allspice tree is sometimes planted in parks on the islands for its pretty bark and scented foliage and fruits.

Banana Passion Fruit

Passiflora mollissima

 

The banana passion fruit is a pest species in upper elevation areas on the larger islands. It spreads rapidy as the seeds are spread by birds and feral pigs. It is usually found around 2000-5000ft, and often in areas of moderate rainfall.

Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zeylancium

 

The cinnamon tree is a more recent introduction to the islands and is spreading naturally in some areas, particularly near the Pali area on Oahu. It is the source of commercial cinnamon.

Coffee

Coffea arabica

 

The coffee tree spreads naturally on all of the main islands, usually from long-closed coffee plantations. Coffee is still an important crop of the islands, and large plantations are found on the Big Island, as well as Kauai. Coffee for commercial purposes grows best on the leeward/arid sides of the islands, but wild coffee is often found in areas of high rainfall.

Guava

Psidium guajava

 

The guava is the most common fruit tree is Hawaii. It grows almost anywhere on the islands and is a pest tree in many areas. The yellow fruits with their pink pulp are common at almost any time of year.

Java Plum

Syzygium cuminii

 

Java plum trees spread naturally on most of the islands.

Lilikoi

Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa

 

The Lilikoi is a special type of Passion Fruit famous in the Hawaiian Islands. Unlike the more common Passion Fruit, the Lilikoi ripens to a yellow color. The baseball-sized, hard-shelled fruits contain a luscious orange pulp with a tart flavor that is widely known. The vines are common on all of the main islands and the plant can be somewhat of a pest in some spots.

Macadamia Nut

Macadamia integrifolia

 

The Macadamia Nut tree, bearing the tasty nut with same name is native to Australia but was found to grow well in the Hawaiian climate. The nuts are commercially grown on the Big Island, and the tree is occasionally seen scattered as a dooryard tree on the other islands.

Mango

Mangifera indica

 

The beautiful mango tree is a common dooryard tree on most of the islands, bearing the well-known mango fruit. Trees usually grow to 50-70ft and in season may bear hundreds of fruits.

Strawberry Guava

Psidium cattleianum

 

Very common in the wild, the strawberry guava bears small edible red fruits. While an attractive tree, strawberry guava is so widespread on the islands it is considered an invasive weed. A common understory shrub or tree in wet forests.


Exotic Ornamentals


Autograph Tree

Clusea rosea

  The autograph tree is a naturally spreading exotic on all of the main islands. It is commonly found near sea shores and is often planted in parks. Its distinctive dark green leaves can be etched, and in populated areas you will often find initials and messages carved into the leaves.

Cannonball Tree

Couroupita guianensis

  An exotic found in a number of botanical gardens, this South American native is grown for its huge cannonball like fruits. Nice specimens are found at Foster Botanical Garden and the Manoa campus.

Golden Shower Tree

Cassia fistula

  The golden shower tree is a common street tree in Hawaii, grown for its long strands of bright yellow flowers.

Ixora's

Ixora sp.

  The ixora's come in many different colors and are often planted in cities along streets. They are usually short bushy plants and are sometimes trained into hedges.

Rainbow Shower Tree

Cassia fistula x

javanica

  Another of several common Shower Tree's planted as ornamentals on the main islands. The Rainbow Shower Tree is notable for its highly decorative and colorful flowers. Semi-common as a street tree in Honolulu and some other cities.

 

Canoe Plants

 

Candlenut

Aleurites mollucana
  The kukui is one of the most common trees of Hawaii, spreading naturally on all of the main islands. Large strands of the tree are distinctive by their light green foliage. The kukui is the state tree of Hawaii. The nuts are commonly used in leis.

Mountain Apple

Syzygium malaccense

  One of Hawaii's most beautiful canoe fruits, the Mountain Apple grows naturally in mid-elevation forests away from the coastline on all the major islands. The fleshy fruits mesaure up to several inches long and have a refreshing watery-sweet flavor.

Noni

Morinda citrifolia

  The noni was probably the native Hawaiian's most important medicinal fruiting plant, although most of the medicinal applications are from other parts of the tree--not the fruit itself. It is a common naturalized tree on all of the major islands, identified by its large, glossy-green leaves, and warty, white fruits that have a very strong and disaggreable odor.

Native Plants

 

Hala,
Screw Pine, Tourist Pineapple

Pandanus tectorius

  Hala is one of the more common seashore plants in the islands. Fruits are edible and the long leaves contain valuable fiber used for weaving. The fruit resembles a pineapple, sometimes confusing the unfamiliar tourist--hence its common name.

Koa

Acacia koa

  Koa is probably Hawaii's best known native forest tree, popularied for its beautiful hardwood, used in woodworking and furniture making. The tree is native only to the islands, and is usually seen in mid-elevation areas away from the coast.