Kauai Flora – Flowers, Trees and Fruits of the Garden Isle
Kauai’s abundant flora has led to its nickname of “The Garden Isle” – and deservedly so. In many ways, Kauai is like a gigantic tropical botanical garden. The island is literally teeming with numerous varieties of exotic flowers, trees, fruits and other forms of beautiful, green plant life. This substantial amount of exotic vegetation is one of the main reasons vacationers love to travel to Kauai.
The majority of plants you’ll find on Kauai aren’t native to the island. Most of the tropical plants and vegetation came from other places all over the world. Over thousands of years, seeds, plants and trees were carried to the Hawaiian Islands by sea winds, birds and even people. Since arriving on Kauai, some of the plants have adapted to the island’s unique ecosystem, giving rise to completely new plant lineages. Many scientists consider the Hawaiian Islands a natural lab, perfect for studying plant evolution.
Flowers of Kauai
So what kind of flowers can you expect to find on Kauai? Oh, nothing much. Just an endless supply of vibrantly colored hibiscus varieties, pink & purple bougainvillea vines, the sensational birds of paradise, sweet smelling plumeria, amazingly fragrant gardenias, densely flowered & aromatic lantana, the showy red ginger, the magnificent torch ginger, and hundreds of species of orchids – just to name a few. Below are descriptions of some of the plants and flowers found on Kauai.
Mokihana – Kauai’s Official Flower
All of the Hawaiian Islands have certain flowers they’ve chosen as their official island flower. Kauai has chosen the mokihana, which actually isn’t even a flower at all. They’re light green berries found mainly in Kauai’s rainforests.
Kauai’s beautiful orchids flourish here thanks to the island’s topical warmth and humidity. The dendrobium orchids are some of the most popular. These come in yellow, white, purple and lavender. A white and lavender variety of orchid, called the vanda, is often found all along many of Kauai’s roads.
Anthurium, Flamingo Flower
This is an extremely popular flower due to the fact that it will last for up to three weeks after being cut in its prime. The anthurium comes in a variety of colors including white, pink-red, deep red, orange and more. What’s interesting about them is that the bright, showy, heart-shaped part of the plant, which appears to be a flower, isn’t really a flower – it’s a bract. The plant does have flowers, but they are very small and barely noticeable.
The Trees of Kauai
When people think of Kauai and the other Hawaiian Islands, they naturally think of palm trees. But the fact is, the Garden Isle has a very wide variety of exotic, tropical trees some of which are colorful flowering trees and others that are fruit bearing trees. Below are descriptions of just a few of them.
The Candle Nut Tree (Kukui) - Hawaii’s State Tree
Hawaii’s official state tree is the kukui or candlenut tree, and can be found all over Kauai as well as the other Hawaiian Islands. These trees grow up to 100 feet and are easy to spot with their pale-green foliage. They provided early Hawaiians with dyes, fuel, medicine, food, oil, gum, wood and ornaments. Candlenut trees have clusters of small white flowers that are often used in leis. The nuts of the tree can also be used to make leis.
These massive trees are unmistakable with their aerial roots that grow down from the branches. When the roots reach the ground they can become thick and strong. Sometimes banyans look almost like they have a bunch of extra tree trunks. There’s a banyan in Lahaina’s Courthouse Square on Maui that has become known for it’s extremely large size. Since coming to the island in 1873, it has grown to cover two thirds of an acre.
The Royal Poinciana Tree
In my opinion, the Royal Poinciana is the most beautiful tree in the world. They grow up to 40 feet tall, have gracefully twisted limbs and a flat canopy with lush, green, fern-like leaves. But what really makes these trees so beautiful are the massive clusters of bright, flaming-red flowers that engulf the trees when in full bloom. This bold color has led to various names for the Royal Poinciana such as Flamboyant Tree, Flame Tree, Mohur Tree and Red Flame. They are absolutely spectacular trees. Take a look at this Royal Poinciana picture and see if you agree.
Kauai’s Fruit Bearing Trees
Besides the exotic and showy trees detailed above, Kauai also has many fruit bearing trees. Here you can find avocado trees, banana trees, breadfruit trees, Guava trees, lychee trees, mango trees, mountain apple trees, papaya trees and passion fruit trees also known as lilikoi on the islands.