GARDENIA VARIETY One of the most refreshing aspects of a visit to Hawai‘i is the fragrance of the tropical flowers. Few other places on earth rival the scents found here on our islands, and one such fragrant flower is the gardenia. Multiple gardenias grow here, from the standard gardenia, with beautiful, soft white blossoms, native to Southeast Asia, and preferring moist, acidic growing conditions more suitable to our island’s higher elevations. Gardenia tubifera, or the golden gardenia, is striking with its yellow petals and sweet fragrance, making a dramatic statement in any landscape. The Tahitian gardenia, Gardenia taitensis, also grows here in Hawai‘i, either as a small hedge or tall tree. Its pinwheel shape flower has five to eight petals that resemble blades, and is a favorite flower to wear behind the ear both here and across Polynesia. Hawaiÿi has its own gardenia, the nänü. Native to Hawaiÿi’s dryland forests, the nänü has six soft white petals, with a sweet perfume slightly reminiscent of coconut oil. Regardless of the type of gardenia you encounter, be sure to admire its beauty and enjoy their heavenly scent.
BIG ISLAND TRAVELER