October 14, 2019
In 2000, the State of Hawaii gave each of its eight islands their own official color which matches the shade of the island’s official flower or lei making material. Hawaii has the color red for the pualehua or ohia blossom. The color red honors the fire goddess Pele as she still spills her lava along the shores and into the sea. Ohia flowers also come in white, orange and yellow, but it is the bright red feather-like blossoms that represent the Big Island.
Maui became the pink island because the pink Damask rose can found just about everywhere. Brought over from Asia in the 1800s, the Maui rose or lokelani, became the official flower in 1923. It is the only flower not officially recognized in 2000, and the only nonnative species selected.
Oahu’s color is the bold golden yellow puailima or ilima for short. Ilimas come in shades of yellow, orange and red, but it is the yellow flower that is most prized and is a symbol of love.
Kauai is the color purple. The mokihana berry are light purple flowers found on the fragrantly scented Mokihana tree. The anise-scented berries were used by native Hawaiians as perfumes and room fresheners and are only found on Kauai.
Molokai is the color green of Pua Kukui or blossoms of candlenut tree. This small, largely rural island sits between Maui and Oahu. The flowers on the tree are tiny, white and found in clusters. Leis are made from the peeled and then polished kukui nuts, found in both black and spotted brown varieties. Hawaii designated the pua kukui as the official state tree in 1959.
Lanai sits off the west coast of Maui and its official color is orange. The island flower is the kaunaoa, or native dodder. The distinctive orange and green plant is found along island beaches. Lanai gets less rainfall than most other Hawaiian islands which makes parts of it dry and almost desert like.
Niihau sits off Kauai’s western coast and is a privately owned island that claims the color white. Visitors rarely make it onto Niihau but the island is well-known for shell leis as prized souvenirs. The shells used to make these leis, called pupu. Some of the shells are white, but they also come in pinks, tans and peach tones.
Kahoolawe has the color gray of the hinahina otherwise known as the native beach heliotrope. Located off of the southwest Maui, this island is uninhabited and visitors are not allowed. The flowers are fragrant and white in small trumpet shapes. Tiny hairs cover the leaves, which in a certain light appear silver.