A Brief History and Origin of the Hawaiian Lei
The lei is practically synonymous with Hawaiian culture, but where did they come from?
Maybe you were greeted with a Hawaiian lei the first time you landed in the state, or maybe you have just gotten used to seeing them on TV.
Either way, you have seen and are familiar with the lei, but what does it mean and where did it come from? Many people take the lei for granted, but there’s a rich and fascinating history behind it.
We’ve compiled a brief history of the Hawaiian lei just for you.
The History of the Hawaiian Lei
The history of the lei traces back to the origins of Hawaii as we know it today. The beautiful, lush islands of Hawaii weren’t populated until relatively recently. It makes sense when you think about the geographic location and distance from the mainland, but it’s not something you would typically think of.
The first inhabitants of the islands were Polynesian sailors who arrived there around 400-500 A.D. Even more surprising is the fact that these sailors made the voyage in finely crafted canoes! These were not our typical idea of canoes, rather a sturdier and larger watercraft that could hold larger numbers of people.
Still, a boat needs to be extremely fit to cross the ocean. The islands were already populated with birds and fish, but the mariners needed to supplement their diets, so they carried with them a variety of plant an animal species. The supplies that those people brought with them on large canoes grew and developed the habitable, beautiful human environment that we know and love.
Polynesians Brought the Lei With Them
The tradition of the lei was already established Polynesian culture before anyone inhabited Hawaii. Leis used to be adorned with different objects that aren’t used in practice as often these days.
Leis were originally embellished with flowers, leaves of plants, seashells, various seeds and nuts, bird feathers, bones, and other objects that held significance. Crafting leis became a sort of art, one which led to the fine pieces that we know today.
Because they were so integral to Hawaiian culture from its beginnings, it’s no surprise that the Hawaiians used the lei in several ways to signify large cultural ideas.
How Were Leis Used?
The ancients used leis to signify their status in society. This was and is a common theme across cultures. People tend to dress in a way that signifies a fact or idea about themselves, most commonly found in high-class groups which seek to make known their role in society.
Leis were a way to embellish one’s self in a beautiful way, expressing their identity as Hawaiians. The lei was political as well, coming into play when two opposing groups sought to unite. Hawaiian chiefs would come together to form peace agreements, tying the vines from two leis together to symbolize the unity of the two tribes.
Intertwining a vine from each tribe was officially the “signature” of the peace treaty, if you will, and was very significant to the agreement.
Leis were also used in the household and nearly everywhere else. Because the object had such a connection to the spiritual, Hawaiians crafted leis that were worn for nearly every task you can think of. Different colors and pedals held relationships with different gods and goddesses.
The red Lehua flower, for example, represented the volcano goddesses. People used to give offerings of these flowers, dropping them into the volcanos as a way to honor the gods. Many people still hold to tradition and give offerings to this day.
How We Know Leis Today
Visitors started coming to Hawaii in the late 1800s, and it was almost immediately a custom to greet those visitors with leis. This is part of the reason that leis are so synonymous with Hawaii– mainlanders have received them ever since they started coming!
The leis given at that time were true to the original, traditional version that held beautiful flowers and objects. Those still exist, but the tourism and popularity of the Hawaiian lei has lead to the majority of them being mass produced and plastic. While the lei still holds a positive association for most people, the fact that they are not handmade limits the significance.
The entire process of making and wearing leis was and is a spiritual practice. The objects are carefully selected, the art of crafting the lei is fine-tuned and difficult, and the differences between leis are significant to the task that is being done while wearing them. Unfortunately, the mass production strips the lei of some of its significance.
Ways to Honor the Tradition
If you’re planning to visit Hawaii, you can engage with the lei the old fashioned way if you wish to. The best way to do this is by ordering a flower lei greeting when you arrive at the airport. It may seem unusual to order a greeting for yourself, but you’ll be granted with a warm welcome and a beautiful lei, just like those who visited the islands hundreds of years ago.
Beyond that, there aren’t many rules to wearing a lei. It’s important to recognize, however, that it is a significant object to the people of Hawaii, and it shouldn’t be treated with disrespect. The lei exists as a greeting, a reminder, and a spiritual tool.
People give out leis at nearly every special occasion, so there is a strong association between celebration and achievement when someone wears a lei. Because of this, giving a lei is a common and ordinary thing in Hawaii. This leads to the only real rule that there is when it comes to receiving one– always accept it.
Unless you have an allergy or some other difficulty with the lei, it’s best to receive it warmly when given to you.
Come to Hawaii!
The islands are filled with adventure and excitement. The Hawaiian lei is far from the only cultural gem that the islands have to offer, and we want you to experience it fully. Start your trip by getting the best tips and tricks.
If you’re interested in learning more about a trip to Hawaii, we have all the information you need. You can also buy Hawaiian flowers from our beautiful collection.
10 of the Rarest Orchids in the World
Orchids are some of the most elegant and diverse flowers in the world. Here are 10 of the rarest orchids from around the globe!
Did you know that the orchid family (a.k.a. Orchidaceae) contains approximately 25,000 species? Or that many orchids remain critically endangered and are rarely found in nature? In fact, the rarest orchids in the world are protected by law and occupy fragile habitats.
Interested in learning more about some rare orchid species? Read on to discover the ten rarest members of the Orchidaceae family.
1. Western Underground Orchid
The Western Underground Orchid is so rare that scientists believe there are fewer than 50 plants in the world. Its habitat is the broom bush scrubland of Western Australia, and it spends its entire life below ground. It flowers from late May through early June, you guessed it, underground!
With more than a hundred reddish and cream-colored flowers, the orchid features a strong fragrance. Since the orchid can’t draw on energy from the sun, it contains no chlorophyll. Instead, it parasitizes the roots of the broom honey myrtle bush.
How? It draws nutrients from this shrub through a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungus.
Because of its subterranean existence, the orchid relies on termites and gnats to pollinate it. They are drawn to it by the flower’s strong fragrance.
2. Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
The Western Prairie Fringed Orchid only exists in five states in the American midwest. Only 172 populations of the species are left in the world, and of these, only four contain more than 1,000 plants.
A wetland plant, the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid flourishes in “prairie potholes.” Major threats to this plan include fires, overgrazing, and development.
3. Ghost Orchid
Native to Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas, the Ghost Orchid grows on the main branches of living trees. It tends to favor pond-apple trees. It blossoms between June and August, producing between one and 10 fragrant flowers that open one at a time.
Ghost Orchid flowers appear white. They are displayed on spikes rising out of the plant’s root network. The lower petal of each flower has two long, lateral tendrils giving the Ghost Orchid’s flowers their distinctive look.
Endangered in the wild, Ghost Orchids have also proven very tricky to cultivate in captivity. Almost all attempts at growing the plant have failed although a handful of botanists have found success.
4. Rothschild’s Orchid
Rothschild’s Orchid is also known as the Gold of Kinabalu Orchid. It is a large, clear-leafed member of the Orchidaceae family. When it blooms, it produces up to six vibrant, tiger-striped flowers.
It was originally discovered in Northern Borneo in the rainforests of Mount Kinabalu. The flower has green and red striped petals and is only found between the elevations of 1,640 and 4,000 feet above sea level.
5. Shenzhen Nongke Orchid
The Shenzhen Nongke Orchid is unlike any other flower on this list. How? It was engineered in a Chinese laboratory by agricultural scientists. In fact, its name comes from the Shenzhen Nongke University where the experiment took place.
It took eight years to craft the blossom, and it, in turn, requires four to five years to produce each flower. It remains a rare bloom that sells for upwards of $220,000 per flower.
6. Hawaii Bog Orchid
One of three species found in Hawaii, this fringed orchid only lives in bogs protected from wild pigs by fences. It features greenish-yellow flowers on erect skies complemented by pale green, egg-shaped leaves. Grown from a tuber, not much else is known about the plant including how it reproduces or its lifespan.
What are some of the biggest threats facing the Hawaii Bog Orchid? Apart from pigs, threats include cattle grazing, hurricanes, and invasive plant species. As of 2009, three populations of the plant remained numbering less than 50 total.
7. Coleman’s Coral Root
Only three populations of Coleman’s Coral Root exist. They are all located in the Sky Islands of Arizona.
Like the Western Underground Orchid, Coleman’s Coral Root spends much of its life below ground. As a result, it doesn’t use photosynthesis to generate fuel from the sun.
A symbiotic relationship with fungus allows it to colonize the roots of shrubs and trees. Because of this interdependent relationship, disturbances of the soil can kill whole colonies. For example, accidental trampling by hikers renders the plant incapable of reproducing.
Unlike the Western Underground Orchid, Coleman’s Coral Root flower above ground when optimal environmental conditions exist. Fewer than 200 of these flowers grow above ground at any given time.
These flowers represent the plant’s only means of reproduction. Threats to this flower include cattle grazing, humans who accidentally trample the fragile blooms, and mining activity.
8. Dragon’s Mouth
Dragon’s Mouth grows in the bogs, swamps, and wet lowlands of Eastern North America, from Manitoba to Virginia. It is a leafless orchid. It flowers in the spring producing a single bright pink blossom. This blossom features a pale pink labellum with a yellow center and magenta spots.
While Dragon’s Mouth is listed as globally secure, it remains threatened in North America. Although the flower puts off a lovely aroma, it offers little nectar to pollinators. As a result, it relies on inexperienced bees to pollinate it.
9. Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid
In 2013, scientists rediscovered an extremely rare species of butterfly orchid on the Azorean island of Sao Jorge. The Azores are a group of islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean. Researchers believe the species is so rare that its habitat may be limited to one mountaintop forest.
Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid is one of three species of butterfly orchid native to the island. Its rediscovery has placed new emphasis on the need for better conservation efforts.
The unique orchid has dwindled to near extinction. The combined threats of agricultural expansion, deforestation, and non-native flowers have decimated local populations.
10. Sky-Blue Sun Orchid
The Sky-Blue Sun Orchid is critically endangered. These rare orchid plants have recorded populations in Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria.
The Sky-Blue Sun orchids’ area of occupation is estimated at less than 0.01 km squared. The plant grows in two distinct locations, Mason Point and Pirates Road. But its numbers continue to dwindle.
At the turn of the 21st century, the plant’s total population was estimated at less than 60 individuals. The Pirates Road colony numbered 32 plants and the Mason Point population between 5 to 20 individuals. The main threat to the Sky-Blue Sun Orchid remains loss of habitat.
The Rarest Orchids in the World
The ten orchids listed above face threats from invasive species, development, and more. Most hover near extinction. Learning more about the rarest orchids in the world highlights the importance of conservation.
Some species, such as Coleman’s Coal Root and the Hawaii Bog Orchid, face virtual extinction. They remind us of how fragile Earth’s ecosystems truly are and why very rare orchids need to be protected.
Fascinated by rare orchids? Check out our blog to learn more about these fragile beauties. Or, contact us today with your orchid-related questions. From cultivation to maintenance, we’re here to help your plants bloom.
10 Hawaiian Theme Party Ideas To Try This Summer
10 Hawaiian Theme Party Ideas To Try This Summer
Every season has certain qualities that set it apart from the others.
Summer is known for long days that turn into nights, barefoot walks on the beach and relaxed, sunshine-filled fun with friends.
Hawaii has always been known as the perfect summer destination. The sand and surf, laid-back lifestyle, and fun-loving locals make everyone who visits feel like they’ve stepped foot in tropical paradise.
In fact, the island state is well-known for its trademark Hawaiian hospitality.
If you can’t make it to the island to party this summer, how about throwing your own Hawaiian party?
What better way to ring in the summertime?
Whether you’re inviting your neighbors, co-workers, or your kid’s kindergarten class, we’ve got perfect party ideas that everyone will love.
Organize your own island escape with these Hawaiian theme party ideas!
10 Hawaiian Theme Party Ideas for Every Summer Occasion
These Hawaiin theme party ideas will help make your summer entertaining simple. Once you plan one Hawaiian party, many of your original party ideas can be used for your next event, even if the occasion is completely different from the first.
Hawaiian parties are so versatile that the theme is appropriate for all ages and works for practically every summer occasion.
Hawaiian theme party ideas can accommodate practically any type of party, For girls’ night, your son’s birthday, an engagement party or a neighborhood get-together, Hawaiin theme party ideas are a perfect pick, no matter what crowd you’re hosting.
Here are ten Hawaiian theme party ideas to jump-start your summer party planning.
1. Aloha Summer Kick-Off Party
Say goodbye to the classroom and hello to summer with an ” Aloha Summer party” that gets the season started off right.
For a class or team party, fun group games and activities are essential. A hula-hooping contest and limbo competition are kid favorites. Afterward, party-goers can chow down on healthy fruit skewers and chilled lime-sherbert punch.
Send each child home with a lei. It’s a simple party favor that’s always a hit.
2. Get Down at a Hula Dance Party
Grass skirts, flower leis, and authentic Hawaiian music will have your guests hula-ing in no time. Have someone come to teach a quick lesson, or check online to learn Hawaiian-style dances that you can pass on to your party attendees.
This is a big hit for a girl’s night or girl’s birthday party.
Floral arrangements do double-time, serving as centerpieces and flair for your guests’ hair. Allow girls to choose their favorite Hawaiian flower to tuck behind their ear for a fancy Hawaiian ‘do.
3. Say “I Do” to a Tropical Paradise Engagement Party
What’s the next best thing to getting hitched in Hawaii?
Celebrating your engagement with a Tropical Paradise Party might not beat the island heat, but it runs a close second.
Serve shrimp cocktails and pina-coladas to your guests. Have cocktail napkins printed with the happy couple’s names and the date of their big event.
Strings of lights and tropical floral accents set a romantic ambiance for an evening outdoors.
4. Beat the Heat with a Luau Pool Party
Make a splash this summer with a luau themed pool party. If you don’t have access to a swimming pool, a slip-n-slide or sprinkler works just as well.
5. Tie Dye Birthday Bash
Pass out white t-shirts and string them on a clothesline. Fill spray bottles with brightly colored water and fabric dye and let your guests create their own tropical work of art.
6. Invite Your Neighbors to an Island Block Barbeque
Crank up the grill and turn up the heat this summer with a neighborhood barbeque block party.
The sweet smell of authentic Hawaiian barbeque is a never-fail crowd pleaser. Make the menu simple by asking everyone to bring a potluck dish while you provide the main dish.
7. A Backyard Hawaiian Movie Party
Rent all of your favorite Hawaiian flicks and invite the family over for a night at the movies in your backyard.
A blow-up movie screen is ideal, but you can even use a regular television or projector to show the night’s feature film.
Kids can string candy leis while parents catch up.
8. Tiki Bar After-Hours Social
Looking for a fun after-hours professional event to host? String bright floral garland, center floral arrangements on tables, and create a tiki-bar using posterboard.
Serve Hawaiian-themed drinks and appetizers. Set the mood with some island music and tiki torches.
Colleagues will applaud your creativity and spend time getting to know one another.
9. A Coconut Cocktail Party
Carve out coconuts and serve cocktails to guests on Hawaiian platters garnished with miniature “skewers” or toothpicks stacked with pineapple and cherries. Add tiny parasols to top off the coconut concoction.
10. Treasure Hunt Island Equals Family Fun
This party idea works great with groups of friends and families.
Large crowds can divide into teams.
As their host, you will pass out a “treasure map” that you created prior to their arrival, along with scavenger hunt clues. Each clue will lead the group to a token prize, landmark, or additional clue needed for the next step.
You can modify the scavenger hunt depending on the ages and skill levels of your guests.
This party can be thrown together in no time for hours of island-style fun.
Ready to Throw a Summer Party?
You can add to these Hawaiian theme party ideas, or substitute a suggestion for a creative idea of your own.
If you are throwing more than one summer party, stock up on party extras from your local dollar store. You can usually find leis, luau themed paper products, tiki torches, and other fun items like funky strings of lights or paper lanterns there. Many local dollar stores even stock faux grass skirts throughout the summer.
Hawaiian party favors and decorations abound, especially during the warmer months.
But, you can throw a super-fun islander’s summer soiree using just a few homemade or dollar store decorations and bright tropical flower arrangements. This decor suits almost any Hawaiian-themed occasion. And, once the party is over, you’ll have a floral party favor of your own to brighten up your home.
Are you ready to throw your own summer party?
Check out our selection of party-perfect Hawaiian floral arrangements and place your order today!
The Top 10 Most Beautiful Hawaiian Flowers
If you have a deep love for the beauty of Hawaii, then you must appreciate the beauty of Hawaiian flowers! This article is about native flora of Hawaii!
Do you know about the most gorgeous Hawaiian flowers on the islands?
Anyone can look at a flower and admire its beauty. However, the more you learn about the different kinds of Hawaiian flowers, the more appreciation you’ll have for the native island flora.
Learn to recognize the most beautiful Hawaiian flowers, and you’ll experience a newfound excitement each time you see one growing. You’ll even be able to impress your friends and family with your botanical knowledge.
Read on to learn more!
1. Hawaiian Hibiscus
This is one of the most iconic Hawaiian flowers. In fact, Hawaii’s official state flower is the yellow hibiscus.
The story behind the Hawaiian hibiscus is that in 1923, the hibiscus was named the flower of the territory – but no one knew what kind of hibiscus was supposed to be the official one.
The red hibiscus is native to the islands and seen in a lot of Hawaiian iconographies. Many people considered it the official state flower until 1988 when the yellow hibiscus was given the official designation.
However, no matter which variety you think of first, there’s no doubt that this is one of the region’s most iconic flowers. Just be sure not to pick any wild hibiscus – the wildflowers are actually an endangered species.
One more thing that makes the hibiscus special?
Although they bloom almost every day, the blooms never last more than one or two days. Each time you see a hibiscus bloom, it’s probably different than the one you saw yesterday.
The lovely, symmetrical plumeria is another flower that’s long been associated with the islands. These plants aren’t native to Hawaii, but they’ve become an integral part of the scenery.
Plumeria flowers have a sweet, beautiful fragrance and soft petals. They have traditionally been worn behind the ear to show relationship status. The left ear means you’re in a relationship since it’s closer to your heart. The right ear means you’re single.
3. Birds of Paradise
These sculptural Hawaiian flowers are impossible to miss. Although they originate from South Africa, the bird of paradise flower has been gracing the islands of Hawaii for many years.
The bright petals fan out like the wings of a tropical bird, hence the name. These blooms also make great flower arrangements, since they last a long time after being cut.
One of the best-known Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, called “White Bird of Paradise,” was done while she was in Hawaii during the 1940s.
4. Ohia Lehua
This tough flower is always the first plant to grow on a lava flow after an eruption. There’s actually a fascinating legend involving ohia lehua plants and Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.
Once upon a time (the legend goes), the volcano goddess was attracted to a gorgeous man called Ohia. However, Ohia rejected her, because he loved a woman called Lehua.
Pele took revenge by transforming Ohia into a gnarled tree. Lehua appealed to the other Hawaiian gods to turn him back into a man. However, the gods didn’t want to anger Pele.
Instead, they decided to turn Lehua into a flower blossom that grew on the Ohia tree, keeping the lovers together forever. Legend has it that picking a flower from an ohia lehua tree will cause a rainstorm because the lovers cry when they’re separated.
You might know the pikake flower by another name: pikake is Hawaiian for jasmine. Pikake when translated actually means “peacock.”
The Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani named these flowers after the birds she loved. The scent of Hawaiian jasmine is one of the most distinctive scents on the island.
Pikake can also be used to make leis. The buds are taken before they bloom completely and woven together to make a lei worn by hula dancers, brides, and party guests.
These Hawaiian flowers have a distinctive shape that looks like half the flower is missing. Another fascinating Hawaiian legend offers an explanation for the shape.
The princess Naupaka was in love with a commoner, according to the legend. They couldn’t marry, but a wise man told them to go to a temple to pray and see what the priest would tell them.
It took them many days to reach the distant temple. However, when they got there, the priest had nothing helpful to say to the lovers. The devastated princess took the white flower she wore in her hair and ripped it in half.
She gave half the flower to her lover and told him to go back to the beach, while she would live in the mountains.
This refers to the fact that there are two types of the naupaka plant: one from the beach and one from the mountains. Each only appears to grow half a flower.
The mountain naupaka, with its their strong scent, is known as the “female” version of the plant while the beach naupaka is the “male” plant with a lighter scent.
Many different types of ginger grow on the islands. You’re probably familiar with the spice, but do you know how to recognize the flower?
Ginger’s lovely geometric blossoms don’t have a scent until you crush or squeeze them. Then, the petals release a sweet, wonderful fragrance. Ginger is commonly used in Hawaiian cooking, and in beauty products such as shampoo.
Heliconia flowers come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. It can take a long time to learn to recognize all of them – you’ll often feel like you’re looking at a different species!
These flowers can be hard to spot since the blooms are often hidden in the plant’s own shadows. However, peak under the leaves of a heliconia and you’ll see bright red, orange, or yellow blossoms that look like sculptures.
Do You Love Hawaiian Flowers?
One of the best ways to show your love for Hawaiian flowers is to learn about the history, legends, and uses of each one.
Another great way is to bring them into your home or give them as gifts.
Looking for the perfect Hawaiian flowers to brighten up your day? Check out our tropical flowers for sale here.
Hawaiian flowers are famous around the world. The perfect climate in Hawaii allows many different tropical and other flowers to thrive. But were these beautiful blooms always here or were they brought in from afar?
Orchids are a quintessential Hawaiian flower. Orchids are found in many exotic locations around the world. They came to Hawaii with workers from Asia who came to work in sugar cane fields. Orchid hobbies soon evolved into commercial growing as the popularity of the flower expanded worldwide. Most growers are on the Big Island, known as ‘The Orchid Isle’. However, most islands have climates favorable to growing orchids. Nurseries can be found on Oahu and Maui as well.
There are endemic orchids include some very rare species found only on the island of Molokai. It is believed they may have originally come to the islands via migratory birds.
There are now many large nurseries dedicated to orchids. The seed stock mostly arrives from Taiwan though some local growers create their own crosses. Competition from factory farms in Taiwan and Thailand have created a great deal of price competition for Hawaiian growers most of which are family owned.
In addition to potted orchids and cut stems the orchid blooms are used in lei making. Again cheaper blooms from Thailand have taken from the Hawaiian grown flowers. Most orchid leis are made from dendrobium orchids.
Hanohano orchids are grown in trees and are found in many Hawaiian yards
Plumeria are very much identified with Hawaii. They grow in sunny spots and are seen in many yards and for landscaping. Is plumeria a native Hawaiian tree? Sorry, no. Plumeria are native to the Americas. The name comes from a European botanist name Plumier who first wrote about the tree. They were brought to Hawaii from Mexico in the 1800’s. The blooms are short lived and are white with yellow centers or various shades of pink. Plumeria are used for making leis though they are not so durable as orchid leis. Plumeria are prized for their fragrance. It can be extracted from the flower though this is a difficult process. Many cosmetics use simulated plumeria fragrances.
The flowers are toxic if eaten so keep them away from children and pets.
In Hawaiian the name can be said ‘Pua Melia’ with pua being the Hawaiian word for flower. Melia is a common name for girls in Hawaii. Plumeria is also know as frangipani. You can grow them in many places on the mainland. Water when there are leaves and stop when the leaves begin to drop.
Hibiscus is another favorite garden flower found in Hawaii. But it is another exotic coming from southeast Asia and Oceania. The soft flowers are somewhat short lived and are not sturdy enough for lei making. Hawaiian women will often wear a hibiscus in their hair. They can also be grown as a house plant and are grown outdoors in states like California and Florida.
Hibiscus is so popular in Hawaii it has been named the State Flower.
Anthurium is another Hawaiian classic. This beautiful flower was brought from Central America and it thrives in Hawaii with its similar climate. Anthurium are used for flower arranging and are know to be long lasting. Some anthurium can last up to a month after cutting. Soaking the entire stem and flower under clean water is one trick for a longer life. Anthurium like steady and warm temperature. A little cold exposure or too much heat can cause the flower to wilt.
Anthurium come in colors including red, green and pink. There are also variegated flower as well as smaller tulip types.
So while this flower is seen throughout the islands it is another exotic from the New World.
Protea are cultivated on the island of Maui. They grow well on the slopes of Haleakala. Many farms allow tourists to visit. But protea did not begin on Maui. Protea are originally from Africa and Australia. They grow on a sturdy bush and many can be kept as dried flowers. Types of protea include the large king and duchess. There is also the banksia that came from coastal Australia. Pincushion protea have delicate look. All protea have an unusual appearance in comparison to tropical flowers.
So please come to Hawaii and enjoy our amazing flowers. The fact that most came here from far away does not take away from their importance in Hawaiian life and culture.
Finding a gift for someone in assisted living can be a challenge. These are often the people who took care of us in earlier days. So it is natural to want to return that love and caring in a meaningful way. Gifts for assisted living residents can be particularly challenging at during the holiday season.
The ideal gift should be easy to receive and maintain. Our loved ones living in care giving facilities may not find it convenient to go out to enjoy a gift card for shopping or a nice meal. Or to shop on line. Residents often live in limited space both indoors and out. But a unique gift will warm their hearts in a special way. Often the days can become routine. Something unique and lovely will also bring more social interaction as other residents stop by to see what has arrived.
One of our most popular gifts for assisted living residents are fresh Hawaiian flowers.
Fresh tropical flowers add beauty and color to any home. They are easy to display and make a remarkable show in even the simplest vase. Those with some time may create a spectacular arrangement of their own. And flowers from Hawaii last longer than store flowers, sometimes two weeks or more. While everyone enjoys pretty flowers your gift will be even more meaningful if your loved ones have a connection to Hawaii. They may have been born here, honeymooned in Hawaii, given military service, or simply loved to visit the islands for its people and natural beauty.
At Alii Flowers we offer a wide selection of Hawaiian flowers for your loved ones. You can send a single assortment for a holiday, anniversary or birthday. As a gift for assisted living our Flowers of the Month Clubs are widely enjoyed. This lets you give a different assortment of tropical stems each month for three, six or twelve months. New members receive a full color book to identify each flower. It also includes arranging ideas in many different, easy styles. We will send them directly to the facility. Either to the guests unit or the front desk with the guests name and location.
Looking for something already arranged? Consider a protea basket from Maui. These come in a natural container ready to display. And the unusual protea flowers grab a lot of attention. Not only does this display last for many days but most of the flowers will dry naturally and can be kept. This is a great gift for those in assisted living as it can be opened and shared immediately without arranging.
For a simpler gift a fresh flower lei can be warmly received. This can be worn on a holiday, birthday or anniversary. For attending services at holiday time a fresh corsage will add a special touch.
The holidays are time for loving and caring. Those in assisted living deserve a special remembrance. If you cannot be with them we suggest Hawaiian flowers as a way to send your own message of ‘aloha’.
The Story of the Banksia Flower
Have you heard of the Banksia Men? These were the villains of May Gibb’s “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”, a children’s book series first published in 1918. In it, the Banksia Men are drawn as the aged cones of Banksia trees with the follicles as facial features. It’s no wonder that Gibbs picked Banksia flowers as her inspiration. These huge, colorful flower spikes have tons of character. They bloom into flowers that look tubular or cone-shaped; they’re frequently a sunny yellow, red, orange, or green.
These stunning trees were first collected by a man named Joseph Banks, which is where they got their name. He collected them in Australia during Cook’s voyage of 1770. They were first described, however, in Australia in 1782. The banksia genus is a good traveler, and, in 1977, people started importing these amazing flowers to Maui for commercial cultivation.
These days Banksia flowers are beloved in gardens as shrubs that grow tall, filling in big spaces that require hardy plants. Gardeners keep them for the mammals and birds they attract with their large quantities of nectar, too. They produce a steady supply of nectar even when other sources dry up.
Beekeepers and the Aboriginals of Australia also like the continual flow of nectar these plants produce. The nectar is so plentiful that the people of south-western Australia used to suck on the flower spikes straight, as well as making a sweet drink out of it. They would soak the flower spikes in water, and it was as good as juice.
Commercially, they make great cut flowers, particularly the Banksia coccinea and the Banksia baxterii. Some of them even make good dry flowers. Banksia flowers add variety to any bouquet, from their bright colors to their leathery texture. They come fresh from protea farms on Maui where they luxuriate in the warm days and acidic soil that bring out their best blooms.
If you are looking for a flower with a little history and a lot of character, contact us about our Banksia flowers.
Kukui Nut: What’s It All About?
First brought to the islands by Polynesian explorers from Southeast Asia, Aleurites moluccana, or kukui, is the state tree of Hawaii. With light green foliage covered in a silvery-white powder, these trees can grow to a height of 80 feet, and they have beautiful and fragrant white flowers. Because the trees and their products are so versatile, kukui trees held an important place in the religion and daily lives of the ancients.
In older times, only royalty were allowed kukui nut leis, and the leis were cherished. Today, they are often given to arriving guests, and many people have added the candlenut leis, bracelets and anklets to their jewelry wardrobes. The bracelets are often shared during the exchange of wedding vows to represent the joining of the two spiritual lights of the bride and groom into a single, holy union.
Kukui nuts were a source of light in ancient times, as well. Originally, the nuts were skewered on wicks made from frond leaves from coconut palms, stuck into the ground or a pot of dirt or sand, and lit one by one. As they provided light, they also helped measure the passage of time. Later, the oils were extracted and burned in lamps.
Spiritually, the kukui trees were once held to be the physical form of Kamapua’a, the pig god of the island culture. The kukui ano ano, or kukui leis, were the first prayer beds used by the Hawaiian people, and they represent light, hope and renewal.
In addition to leis, spiritual symbolism and contemporary jewelry, the kukui nuts may be roasted, pounded and mixed with salt and chili peppers to make inamona, a delicious relish-like condiment. The oils were also used often as medicines and tonics for health. Today, the oils are often used as a skin moisturizer that creates a protective layer on dry skin that allows the area to heal naturally.
The oils and ashes of the burned nuts were used to dye tapa cloth and to polish and waterproof wooden bowls, as well as canoes and surfboards made from koa wood. Crushed nuts can be used to polish kukui nut leis, too.
To learn more about kukui nuts and other Hawaiian traditions, contact us.
3 Characteristics Unique to Hawaiian Weddings
The Aloha State is widely known as one of the best honeymoon destinations in the world. However, you don’t actually have to wait until you’re already married to appreciate the beautiful landscape of Hawaii. Instead, you and the love of your life can get married with the awe-inspiring features of the tropical island serving as a magnificent backdrop to your wedding day. Doing so will allow you and your significant other to enjoy characteristics unique to Hawaiian weddings.
Hear the Sound of Waves Crashing During the Wedding Ceremony
There’s no real need to hire a band when getting married on the beaches of Hawaii. The sound of the ocean’s waves crashing onto the shore is already wonderful music to the ears. So you’ll get to save money by not having to hire a band. Yet, your wedding guests will be afforded the opportunity to listen to the wonderful sound of nature while the two of you recite your wedding vows.
Feel Sand Between Your Toes
Hate having to go through an entire day of wearing formal dress shoes? Then come to Hawaii to get married and feel sand between your toes instead. When you’re having a beach wedding, there’s no expectation for wearing formal footwear. Hence, you’ll get to wear sandals or simply go without shoes throughout the entire wedding ceremony.
And don’t be afraid to make it casual. An aloha shirt is perfectly acceptable for an authentic Hawaiian wedding.
Take Incredibly Gorgeous Wedding Pictures
When your wedding is taking place on one of the most visually stunning islands in the world, it’s almost impossible to not have incredibly gorgeous wedding pictures. The ocean, waterfalls, and palm trees all help to create a stunning background for the most perfect wedding picture. Just don’t forget to contact us beforehand to add some nice floral touches to the amazing scenery.
Top Hawaiian Snacks for the Foodie in Your Life
Hawaii is full of delicious treats and snacks to the casual tourist. Whether you’re looking for the best snack to munch on at the beach or looking for the ideal souvenir gift for the foodie in your life, here are the top Hawaiian snacks to consider for every occasion!
Lounging at the Beach:
So you’re in Hawaii and decide to go to the beach. Unless you’re planning to pack an entire luau feast to take along you’re going to need some snacks to munch on while taking in the sun and surf. Why not enjoy some local delicacies to really have the proper island experience? One of the best Hawaiian snacks to pack along for a long day at the beach is Li Hing Mui and dried fruit! When the Chinese people immigrated to Hawaii they brought along their knowledge of drying fruit with salt to preserve the flavor. Plums are arguably the best preserved fruits and “li hing mui” literally means “traveling plum” in Chinese! Some other delicious preserved fruits to take to the beach include dried coconut, dried pineapple, and dried papaya. Not only are the local treats delicious, but the salt will replenish the body after sweating it out at the beach and helps with muscle cramps for those activities like swimming and surfing.
Gifts to Take Home:
Everyone rues the end of a vacation. That’s especially true for those enjoying the days amongst the beautiful Hawaiian beaches and mountainous terrain. What’s even more trying is finding the perfect souvenir for those friends and family back home wanting a piece of Hawaii for themselves. Well fear not, because the best souvenir is one that everyone can enjoy and it’s easy to pack into a suitcase. If you’re having trouble deciding what Hawaiian treat to take back home and give as gifts look no further than a delicious box of chocolate macadamia nuts! A box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts are cheap and can be found in virtually any convenience or gift shop on the Hawaiian islands. Not only that, but they have a rich history with the Hawaiian people since 1927 and make the perfect easy and light gift to take back home for someone you care about.
For those who have tree nut allergies or don’t like the macadamia variety another gift option is 100% Kona coffee! Hawaii is known for its locally sourced coffee beans and nothing is more Hawaiian than the Kona bean. It is cultivated only on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa on the largest island of Hawaii. There are over 600 farms on the Big Island selling coffee. It’s been a recognized brand of coffee globally since the late 19th century and a perfect gift for the caffeine lover in your life.
Of course these aren’t the only two options and Hawaii offers various delicious treats to snack on while the go or to add to a gift basket. Some other options include wasabi rice crackers, lemon or ginger crack seed, assortments of nuts, and flavored mochi! The tasty options are limitless!
For more information on Hawaiian culture or to bring a piece of Hawaii into your life with a personalized bouquet of Hawaiian flowers please feel free to contact us today!
Here are some shots from the main displays at the Aiea Orchid Club 34th annual orchid show. June 12-14, 2015.
Aiea is on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii.
Please enjoy and comment on your favorites.
For more orchid shows in Hawaii visit Honolulu Orchid Society.
Click the arrows on the right to scroll through the pictures.