Knowing What Flower are Hawaiian Leis Made of?

More than nine million people visit Hawaii regularly every year. Most of those nine million people are given Hawaiian leis as part of the island’s tradition for tourists and visitors. So, if you happen to be one of the lucky people to have visited Hawaii, a lei might have been one of the few things you wore around your neck during your visit there. But have you ever stopped to wonder what Hawaiian leis are actually made of?

Hawaii flowers

Hawaiian leis are made of different flowers such as okika, pikake, Melia, carnations, pua male, and ti leaf. Plenty of different flowers are made into traditional Hawaiian leis, but such flowers are native to the Hawaiian islands. Some leis are even made of more than five different flowers.

Your Hawaiian experience will never be complete without a lei around your neck, as it is only in Hawaii that you can get to experience such an authentic tradition. Leis are indeed part of the tradition, but they are also aesthetically pleasing because of the flowers that make up the leis. So, if you are interested in knowing what these flowers are, it is best to read on to find out more about these Hawaiian flowers.

History Of The Lei

Hawaiian leis have a long and storied history. The first written references to the practice of making leis date back to 200 AD when ancient Polynesians brought their traditions with them from Tahiti when they arrived in Hawaii. Over the centuries, Hawaiians made these handmade garlands out of shells, feathers, ti leaves, and flowers for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, or other celebrations.

Today, Hawaiian leis are most commonly seen at graduations and funerals. People wear them as a symbol of love and respect for someone who has passed away or is achieving an important milestone. The vibrant colors and delicate fragrances are also symbolic of life’s natural beauty. They represent renewal and a sign of hope that things will get better with time.

Lei-making has become more than just a tradition; it’s now considered an art form in Hawaii. Each flower used carries its own unique meaning – some signify friendship while others show appreciation – which makes each one extra special. As you can see, there is much more to this cultural practice than simply adorning oneself with flowers. With careful selection, preparation, and assembly, Hawaiian leis provide a powerful way to express love and gratitude across generations.

What Are Traditional Hawaiian Leis Made Of?

When it comes to one of the most common experiences that visitors get to try the moment they arrive in Hawaii, the lei is a tradition that is hard to miss as anyone who has ever been to that island paradise knows what it’s like to have one around the neck.

In case you didn’t know, the Hawaiian lei is a necklace made of flowers that have been customary in Hawaiian tradition for hundreds or even thousands of years already. While Hawaiians have used it for a very long time, it has since become a common tradition for them to lay a lei around the neck of a visitor to the island. So, in that sense, Hawaiian leis are basically made out of flowers, which are then put together to make the shape of a necklace.

What Are Hawaiian Flowers Called?

So, now that you know what a Hawaiian lei is and that it is made of flowers, you might be asking by now what flowers the lei is usually made of. For starters, the Hawaiian lei is customarily made from different varieties of flowers native to the island of Hawaii. As such, there is no clear answer as to what kind of flowers you can see in a lei because they can be anything.

However, here are the more common Hawaiian flowers that you can find in a Hawaiian lei:

1. Okika
Okika is the Hawaiian term that is used for orchids. These flowers are most commonly used on a Hawaiian lei, particularly because they are sturdy and stunning to look at. They also come in a wide variety of different colors. As such, you can basically make an entire lei out of okika due to how there are plenty of different colors of orchids such as white, purple, green, yellow, and pink.

Hawaii Okika

2. Pikake
The pikake is the Hawaiian version of jasmine. It is called such because it basically is the direct translation of the word “peacock.” Not native to Hawaii, the white jasmines you often see on Hawaiian leis are actually from China but were introduced to the islands several hundreds of years ago. Pikake is often used in leis because it comes with a mild scent that won’t irritate the senses of those wearing a lei.


3. Melia
Plumeria, which is called Melia in Hawaii, is another popular flower used for Hawaiian leis. Like the white pikake, it wasn’t native to Hawaii until it was introduced during the 1800s. Since then, it has been grown abundantly, almost exclusively to be used for leis. Melia is popular for leis because it can be found in a wide variety of colors such as pink, yellow, white, and red while carrying a seemingly mellow scent and very light on the nose.


4. Carnation
The Hawaiian term used for carnation is ponimo’i. Carnations were also flowers that were introduced to Hawaii and were produced commercially to be made into leis. You can find ponimo’I in different colors such as white and red. But white is commonly worn by men, while red should be reserved for women.


5. Pua male
Called the Hawaiian wedding flower, pua male is also called stephanotis and is also a flower introduced to Hawaii several hundreds of years ago. Since then, it has become so popular on the island as the main choice for Hawaiian weddings due to how it carries a scent that is seemingly seductive enough to attract men and women alike. As one of the more difficult flowers to grow, pua male is quite valuable. Its flowers and vines usually make up the base of a Hawaiian lei.

6. Ti leaf
The ti leaf is the Hawaiian leaf that symbolizes luck. That is why it is often used for graduations and other similar big events in Hawaiian culture. While it doesn’t come with the same allure of a flower, ti leaves come in all sorts of different colors but are usually just greenish. Ti leaves are made into lei by braiding them together and adding different flowers to the braids to accentuate the beauty of the Hawaiian lei.

Preparation Of Flowers For Leis

Leis are a traditional Hawaiian custom, and understanding how they’re made is essential to appreciating them. For centuries, lei makers have been using flowers from the islands for their creations. From hibiscus to tuberoses, many types of blooms can be used depending on the occasion or desired look.

The process of preparing the flowers requires skill and patience. First, each bloom must be meticulously removed from its stem. Then it’s laid flat with one side facing up and a needle is inserted into that point of entry along with a strand of thread. Careful attention must then be paid as the aligned petals are hand-sewn together until all 10 sets of petals form a perfect circle.

Once that task has been completed, the flower is ready to become part of an exquisite lei creation. While these handmade pieces are often seen on special occasions such as weddings or birthdays, they may also serve as daily reminders of Hawaii’s beauty and culture – no matter where you live in the world.

How To Make A Traditional Lei?

Making the perfect lei is no easy task. It requires a delicate balance between style and tradition – something that can be difficult to achieve. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian experience or simply want to impress your friends with a unique floral creation, here’s everything you need to know about making a traditional lei.

Most Hawaiian leis are made from fragrant flowers such as tuberose, carnations or pikake. While these may seem like simple choices at first glance, each flower has its own special meaning in Hawaiian culture – so make sure to research their symbolism before settling on one type of flower for your lei. Additionally, some colors have specific meanings too; for example, yellow represents friendship and red means love. Once you’ve decided which flowers to use for your lei, it’s time to start stringing them together. The traditional way of doing this involves using needle and thread (or dental floss) but modern methods include using ribbon or wire instead.

The last step is adding decorations such as shells, feathers, or other small trinkets depending on the occasion. This personal touch will ensure that your lei stands out from the rest and will also bring luck and good fortune according to ancient Hawaiian lore.

Popular Flower Combinations For Leis

Hawaiian leis are a traditional symbol of love and friendship, often given to celebrate special occasions. They most commonly feature flowers that are native to the islands, including roses, carnations, and orchids. However, many other beautiful flower combinations can be used in creating lovely Hawaiian leis:

  • Plumeria – Often considered the official flower of Hawaii, this white, pink, yellow, or red blossom is fragrant and commonly seen adorning lei-wearers on the islands.
  • Pikake – An Arabian jasmine known for its delicate fragrance and pale green petals with purple streaks. It’s also part of the national flower of Hawaii.
  • Bird-of-Paradise – This vibrant orange bloom resembles a bird in flight when mature and gives off an exotic scent.
  • Heliconia – A tropical plant with long curved bracts (leaves) shaped like parrots’ wings available in shades from yellow to scarlet red.
  • Anthurium – Heart-shaped blooms come in bright colors such as pink, red, salmon, and white. These beauties bring a fun pop of color to any Hawaiian lei.

Together these blossoms make up some of the most stunning floral arrangements found anywhere in the world — perfect for celebrating graduations, weddings, or birthdays.

Can I Bring a Flower Lei Home From Hawaii?

If you are about to go back home from your Hawaiian vacation and you are feeling attached to your lei because of all of the memories that came with it and because you want to bring home a souvenir from your trip, you might be wondering if you can actually carry the Hawaiian lei back home to you.

For those living in the US mainland, you can bring a lei home as long as the components that make up the lei are not prohibited items. The good news is that most leis are made with components that are entirely safe to bring back home to the US mainland.

So, if you are intending on buying a lei as a souvenir from your Hawaiian trip, the best thing to do is to ask the vendor whether the lei is made of components such as fresh botanical fruits or if it has any citrus or citrus-related plant parts, or even Mauna Loa. If not, then you can safely bring the lei with you back home to the mainland US.

Why Are Leis Given In Hawaii?

While tourists often see Hawaiian leis as something that the locals give to tourists as a customary gift for visitors to the island, that really isn’t the main reason why leis are given in Hawaii. In fact, there are plenty of different reasons why leis are given in Hawaii, and it is not just for tourists or visitors.

The lei is given as a symbol of greeting, so they are mostly given to tourists in Hawaii. But, at the same time, they could also be given as a symbol of a friendly farewell, such as when tourists are about to leave Hawaii.

However, the main reasons why leis are given are for friendship, love, and appreciation. That is why Hawaiian leis are also widely used for celebrations such as weddings, births, graduations, and other similar events that symbolize a new chapter in a person’s life. There are plenty of different reasons why leis are given, but the fact is that they are mostly to commemorate huge events in a friendly way.

Different Types of Flower Leis

There is no single type of flower lei in Hawaii because there are several different kinds of lei that you can give to a person depending on the event and the occasion. Here are some of the more common types of leis that you can find in Hawaii:

1. Traditional
The traditional lei is the garland-like flower lei that is often given to visitors or tourists. However, even though it might be shaped like a necklace, you shouldn’t wear it like a necklace. Instead, you should be wearing the traditional lei draped on your shoulders and not hanging from your neck.

traditional hawaii leis

2. Head
Also known as the Haku lei, the head lei looks like a crown made of flowers. These types of leis are the most popular in Hawaiian weddings and on other occasions and events that are festive in nature. Of course, you are supposed to wear the Haku lei like a crown.

hawaii head leis

3. Corsage
The corsage lei is usually just made of one flower or a few flowers. These are reserved for those who prefer to be more discreet when wearing a lei as traditional leis, and Haku leis can be a bit too much for some people. You can wear a corsage lei on your chest just where your heart is supposed to be.

corsage lei

4. Hili
The Hili lei is a type of lei shaped like a traditional lei or a Haku lei. However, the difference is that the Hili lei is made from one single plant material. This is the type of lei that ti leaves are used on as they are braided together to form a lei. However, you can still decorate a Hili lei with blossoms to make it look more colorful.

traditional leis

Creative Ways To Use Floral Leis

Hawaiian leis are traditionally crafted with fragrant and colorful flowers, making them a popular choice for special occasions. There is no shortage of creative ways to use floral leis that will make your celebration unforgettable. From traditional Hawaiian luau parties to modern-day weddings, flower leis can be used in many unique and meaningful ways.

One way to incorporate flower leis into your event is by gifting them as favors or tokens of appreciation. For example, you could give guests at a wedding or graduation party individualized leis–one for each guest–to show your gratitude for their attendance. You could also hand out single pieces of stringed flowers instead of bouquets or other gifts so that everyone can join in the festivities without having to worry about carrying something heavy around all night long.

For more intimate celebrations like anniversaries and birthdays, consider making personalized flower leis yourself as a thoughtful gift from the heart. This allows you to customize it according to color, style, size, and scent preferences while expressing how much you care about the recipient.

Dried Flower Alternatives For Leis

Hawaii is known for its iconic lei, which are often made of fresh flowers. While these traditional leis are beautiful and classic, they may not be the best choice when looking to give a lasting gift. Fortunately, there are many dried flower alternatives that make excellent Hawaiian leis.

The most common type of dried flower used in leis is pikake jasmine. This fragrant white or pink flower has been grown on the islands since the 19th century and offers a subtle yet unforgettable scent. Pikake jasmines also come in dyed varieties, allowing you to customize your lei with any color imaginable.

Another popular option for making an everlasting lei is kukui nut shells. These small nuts have long been associated with good luck and can be strung together into intricate patterns or simply left as individual pieces. Dried leaves from native plants such as ferns and ti-leaves can also be used to create unique designs that will last longer than their fresh counterparts.

No matter what kind of material you choose for your lei, it’s sure to bring joy and happiness to whoever receives it – just like traditional Hawaiian flowers do.

Where To Purchase A Lei

When it comes to finding a perfect lei, there are numerous options. From flower shops and online stores to specialty stores that specialize in Hawaiian culture, the choices can be overwhelming. To help narrow down the search and find a great lei for any occasion, here are a few tips:

  • Check out local florists who may offer custom-made leis or even dried flowers that you can use as an alternative.
  • Look into ordering from an online store specializing in Hawaiian gift items – they often have a large selection of beautifully handcrafted leis available for purchase.
  • Visit specialty stores dedicated solely to Hawaiian culture; these often carry unique pieces with intricate designs that only come from experienced artisans.

No matter which option is chosen, purchasing a lei is sure to bring joy to someone special. Whether part of a celebration or used as an expression of love and appreciation, the gesture will always be remembered fondly by its recipient. With so many ways to express your feelings through this meaningful symbol, there’s no doubt why giving a lei has become such an important part of Hawaiian culture over time.

Artificial Flowers For Leis

Hawaiian leis are widely known for their beautiful, vibrant colors that represent the joys and culture of Hawaiian life. Traditionally, these lovely leis were made out of natural flowers found on the islands, but today they can be crafted with a variety of materials. Artificial flowers have become increasingly popular when it comes to making leis because of their affordability and availability. Here are some features you should know about artificial flowers:

  • Easy to find in stores or online.
  • Durable & long-lasting.
  • Comes in many styles and colors.
  • Low maintenance care is required.

With so much variety available, it’s easy to create your own unique design for any special occasion. Whether you choose classic single-strand designs or more elaborate multi-strands with intricate patterns, there is something for everyone.