When hibiscus was made the official flower of Hawaiʻi in 1923, a particular variety was not declared. Many believed it to be the often cultivated introduced species, Chinese hibiscus, or the canoe plant, hau (coast cottonwood). In 1988, the state legislators of Hawaiʻi specified that maʻo hau hele was the state flower. This species is endangered, and can be found on all main Hawaiian islands, except Kahoʻolawe and Niʻihau, but it is rare to find them growing in the wild. The Hawaiian name of this plant translates to “green traveling hibiscus”, possibly a reference to the yellow flowers turning green as they fall from the stems. As a true hibiscus, this species blossoms year-round, but flowers only last for one day.
There are 6 species of hibiscus native to Hawaiʻi, and all but one are endemic (found nowhere else on the planet!)
Common name: Native Yellow Hibiscus
Scientific name: Hibiscus brackenridgei
Where to Find: Shrubland and dry forests