32 Most Common Trees in Hawaii

Hawaii is the only state in the United States to be made up of all islands. This makes it a unique place for different types of vegetation and wildlife. There are many types of trees that grow there, and this post will focus on the most common trees that are found throughout Hawaii.

Hawaii is a chain of islands that has one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. This is due to its diverse climate and topography, which range from sea level to 14,000 feet above sea level. The Kona coffee region on the Big Island is at about 4,000 feet while Hilo on Hawaii’s largest island is around 2,400. 

Hawaii has many different types of trees because it was once an ancient Polynesian kingdom with no mammals except for bats and rats until Captain James Cook arrived in 1778. 

Hawaii is a state that is full of tropical beauty. It has the most diverse flora than any other US state, which makes it an ideal place to visit for anyone who loves plants and trees. This blog post will take you on a journey through some of the most common trees found in Hawaii as well as provide some information about them such as their height and what they are used for. 

1. Kukui Nut/Candlenut Tree (aleurites moluccanus)

Candlenut tree
Tatters Candlenut tree

The Kukui Nut tree is also known as the Candlenut tree. It is a medium to large sized deciduous tree with light gray bark and silver-green leaves. The trunk of this type of tree has bumps on it, which can make climbing difficult. This plant is endemic to Hawaii and only grows at sea level but can grow up to 20 meters. It thrives in warm, moist, sunny areas and is used for mahogany lumber as well as medicine. The leaves can be boiled and eaten or used to make tea because it has antibacterial properties.

2. Almond Tree (prunus dulcis)

Almond tree
Aliosha Bielenberg Almond tree

The Almond tree is also known as the Luau Tree. It is a large to very large evergreen tropical tree that can reach heights of 30 meters. The trunk has reddish-gray bark while the branches are wide and shady with leaves that are dark green, shiny, oblong or lanceolate in shape. The flowers are white or pink with a strong scent that can range from pale yellow to reddish brown. It is endemic to the geographic area of India, China and Malaysia, but it thrives in Hawaii’s climate as well.

3. Banyan Tree (ficus benghalensis)

Ficus benghalensis Indian banyan tree
Forest and Kim Starr Ficus benghalensis (Indian banyan tree)

The Banyan tree is also known as the Indian Fig. It is a large evergreen tropical tree that can reach heights of 25 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 7 meters. The branches of this tree grow downward and form roots similar to those of a weed which grow rapidly to create new trunks. This type of tree is found in tropical areas of the world.

4. Breadfruit Tree (Artocarpus altilis)

Artocarpus altilis
Forest and Kim Starr Artocarpus altilis

The Breadfruit tree is also known as the Ulu or Jack Fruit. It is a large evergreen tropical tree that can reach heights of 35 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 9 meters. The leaves are dark green, shiny, oval in shape with wavy margins. It produces clusters of white flowers that grow into fruit when fertilized. It is endemic to the geographic area of India, China and Malaysia but thrives in Hawaii’s climate as well.

5. Coconut Tree (cocos nucifera)

Coconut Tree
John Coconut Tree

The coconut tree is also known as the Palm Tree. It is a large evergreen tropical tree that can reach heights of 25 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 6 meters. There are two types of leaves, one that is long, thin and pointy while the other is short, flat and round in shape. The fruit comes in the form of a drupe and is green before fertilization, which makes it soft to the touch. After fertilization, it turns brown and hardens.

6. Eucalyptus Tree (eucalyptus globulus)

Eucalyptus tree
Matt Brown Eucalyptus tree

The eucalyptus tree is also known as the fever tree. It is a large evergreen that can reach heights of 30 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 9 meters. The bark is smooth, elastic, pinkish to gray in color with white flowers that turn brown when fertilized. It thrives in wet areas near streams, lakes or marshes.

7. Golden Shower Tree (cassia fistula)

Cassia fistula..
Mauricio Mercadante Cassia fistula

The Golden Shower Tree is also known as the Umbrella Tree. It is a medium to very large evergreen that can reach heights of 20 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 4 meters. The bark of this type of tree is grayish-brown, rough and flaky while the flowers are white, fragrant and pink in color. The flowers are often compared to an umbrella because they come in large clusters. It is found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australia.

8. Hala Tree (pandanus tectorius)

Pandanus tectorius Hala
Forest and Kim Starr Pandanus tectorius (Hala)

The Hala tree is also known as the Screw Pine. It is a large evergreen that can reach heights of 30 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 9 meters. The bark of this type of tree is grayish-brown, smooth and flaky while the flowers are small, green in color with white spots on them. The roots of the Hala tree are often used to make items such as baskets or floor mats because they can be braided very tightly.

9. Jacaranda Tree (jacaranda mimosifolia)

jacaranda tree
Yay Jacaranda tree

The Jacaranda tree is also known as the Blue Jasmine. It is a large evergreen that can reach heights of 15 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 2 meters. It produces beautiful violet flowers with purple or yellow centers along grooved branches. There are two types of leaves, one standard and one pinnate. It thrives in areas of high rainfall and can be found in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

10. Koa Tree (acacia koa)

Acacia koa Koa
Forest and Kim Starr Acacia koa (Koa)

The koa tree is also known as the Acacia Koa. It is a large evergreen that can reach heights of 40 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 12 meters. The bark of the koa tree is very thick and dark brown to black in color while the flowers are small, yellow in color with red or purple hair on the outside. They are bell-shaped with five petals that contain many stamens. Its wood is often used to make furniture, guitars, flooring and doors.

11. Macadamia Tree (macadamia integrifolia)

Macadamia integrifolia
Vahe Martirosyan Macadamia integrifolia

The macadamia tree is also known as the Bush Nut. It is a medium to large evergreen that can reach heights of 7 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The flowers are white in color with a pink, red or purple spot on the bottom petal. The pollen cones grow at the end of long stalks and contain many scales. The fruit is a dark brown bur with thick shells that are very difficult to crack. It is found in the humid coastal areas of eastern Australia and New Guinea.

12. Mangrove Tree (rhizophora mangle)

Mangroves
William Warby Mangroves

The mangrove tree is also known as the Black Mangrove. It is a medium evergreen that can reach heights of 5 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.75 meters. The bark of this type of tree is grayish-brown, smooth and flaky while the flowers are small, green in color with white spots and spread through the tree on fine stalks. The seeds of the mangrove tree are often used to make candles and soap while its sap is used to make rubber, wine or glue.

13. Noni Tree (morinda citrifolia)

Morinda citrifolia Noni
Forest and Kim Starr Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

The Noni tree is found in Hawaii and is also known as the Indian Mulberry. It is a medium to very large evergreen that can reach heights of 10 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of this type of tree is brown, smooth and flaky while the flowers are white in color with yellow bases. The fruit looks like a small melon and is very thorny. It is poisonous and can cause hallucinations if ingested.

14. Papaya Tree (carica papaya)

Carica papaya
Ettore Balocchi Carica papaya

The papaya tree is also known as the Papaw. It is a small to medium evergreen that can reach heights of 8 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.75 meters. The bark of this type of tree is brown, rough and scaly while the flowers are greenish in color with green spots and spread through the tree on fine stalks. The fruit looks like a small melon and is yellow when ripe. It has many seeds that are often used to make soap or as beads in necklaces and bracelets.

15. Royal Poinciana Tree (delonix regia)

Royal Poinciana Delonix regia
Forest and Kim Starr Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia)

The royal poinciana tree is also known as the Flamboyant. It is a medium evergreen that can reach heights of 6 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.75 meters. The bark of this type of tree is grayish-brown, smooth and flaky while the flowers are bright orange in color with red and yellow spots and spread through the tree on fine stalks. The fruit looks like a small melon and is green in color when unripe and deep red when ripe.

16. Sausage Tree (kigelia africana)

Sausage tree
shankar s. Sausage tree

This tree has a funny name, and it’s common in Hawaii. The “sausages” hang from the tree and come in different sizes. The inside is full of seeds- not something you would want to eat!

17. Monkey Pod/Rain Tree (samanea saman)

Samanea saman Monkeypod
Forest and Kim Starr Samanea saman (Monkeypod)

The monkey pod is also known as the Rain Tree in Hawaii. It is a large evergreen that can reach heights of 15 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of the monkey pod tree is very thick, smooth and grayish-brown in color while the flowers are small, green in color with a purple stripe down the middle and spread through the tree on fine stalks. The fruit looks like a small melon and is orange when ripe.

18. Mango Tree (mangifera indica)

mango tree
Rafael Saldaña mango tree

Mango trees are easily recognized- they have large, bright green leaves. They can grow very tall and their flowers are white with an orange hue. The fruit is juicy and has a tangy flavor that people in Hawaii love!

19. Silk Tree (Albizia)

Albizia procera
Dinesh Valke Albizia procera

The silk tree is also known as the White Siris. Sometimes, you can see them growing on steep slopes in Hawaii because they have very strong roots that are great at holding onto rocks and hillsides! They can reach heights of 30 meters or higher and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of this type of tree is brown in color and is smooth and scaly while the leaves are fern-like in appearance. The flowers are yellowish-green, spread through the tree on fine stalks and have flat spikes. The fruit looks like a small melon; when ripe, it becomes brown with tiny hairs on its surface.

20. ‘Ōhi‘as Lehua (metrosideros polymorpha)

Metrosideros polymorpha Ohia lehua ohia lehua
Forest and Kim Starr Metrosideros polymorpha (Ohia lehua ohia lehua)

The ‘ōhia lehua is also known as the Pride of ‘Iao. It is a small to medium evergreen that can reach heights of 20 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.5 meters. The bark of the ōhia lehua is grayish-brown, smooth and scaly while the leaves are dark green in color with light, fuzzy hairs on the underside. The flowers are bright red or orange and spread through the tree on fine stalks. The fruit looks like a small melon; when ripe, it is yellowish-orange in color.

21. Paraná Pine (araucaria angustifolia)

Araucaria angustifolia
mauron halpern Araucaria angustifolia

This tall pine tree comes from South America. When it grows in Hawaii, it is often planted because its wood is heavy and strong- perfect for making into furniture! It has no branches on some of its lower levels while the top of the trunk is covered in droopy needles that look like bows!

22. Arizona Cypress (cupressus arizonica)

Arizona Cypress
Chris M Morris Arizona Cypress

The Arizona Cypress is also known as the Blue Mountain Cypress. It is a small to medium evergreen that can reach heights of 25 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of this type of tree is brown in color, thin and scaly while the leaves look like pine needles- they are dark green in color with a waxy feel and arranged in four rows on the branches. The flowers are small, yellowish-green and spread through the tree on fine stalks.

23. ‘Ohe Bamboo (bambusa vulgaris)

Bambusa vulgaris
Forest and Kim Starr Bambusa vulgaris

The ‘ohe bamboo is famous in Hawaii! It is a type of grass that grows very tall and straight. Sometimes, people in Hawaii use it to make fences. The ‘ohe bamboo has long, thin green leaves spread out over the top half of the plant while its flowers are small, yellowish-green and clustered at the top of the plant. The fruit is small and black with tiny hairs on it.

24. Coconut (cocos nucifera)

Coconut Tree
John Coconut Tree

The coconut tree is one of the most famous trees in Hawaii. It has a short, thick trunk and grows very tall- sometimes up to 60 meters! The leaves on a coconut tree fall off as it gets older so you will only see its thin, green leaves on young trees. Coconuts grow on the top half of the tree and look like bunches of yellow or brown hanging fruit- they are often used to make delicious drinks!

25. Fire Tree (myrica faya)

Morella faya Firetree
Forest and Kim Starr Morella faya (Firetree)

The fire tree has a short, thick trunk and grows very tall- sometimes up to 25 meters! The leaves of this type of tree are bright green with tiny hairs on them while the bark of this kind of plant is gray in color and smooth. If you get close, you can see small flowers grow on the branches that look like tiny pink flowers. Unripe fruit looks like small, green beads while ripe fruit has a yellow color with white spots on the surface.

26. Nepal Alder (alnus nepalensis)

Alnus nepalensis
Tony Rodd Alnus nepalensis

The Nepal Alder is a small to medium evergreen that can reach heights of 15 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.5 meters. The bark of the nepal alder is grayish-brown, smooth and scaly while the leaves are dark green in color with white underneath and arranged in four rows on the branches.

27. ‘Ulu Breadfruit (artocarpus altilis)

Artocarpus altilis
Forest and Kim Starr Artocarpus altilis

The ‘ulu breadfruit is a large evergreen that can reach heights of up to 20 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark is brown in color, thin and scaly while the leaves look like ovals- they are dark green in color with light, fuzzy hairs on the underside.

28. ‘Iliahi Lo’e Coast Sandalwood (santalum ellipticum)

Santalum ellipticum Iliahialoe coast sandalwood
Forest and Kim Starr Santalum ellipticum (Iliahialoe, coast sandalwood)

The ʻiliahi lo’e is a small evergreen that can reach heights of up to 10 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.5 meters. The bark of this type of tree looks like it has stripes when its young while the leaves are lance-shaped in shape with hairs on them. This tree’s fruit looks like green beans attached to strings!

29. Sea Grape Tree  (coccoloba uvifera)

Coccoloba uvifera Sea grape
Forest and Kim Starr Coccoloba uvifera (Sea grape)

The sea grape tree is a short evergreen that can reach heights of up to 15meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of the sea grape tree is dark brown in color, thin and scaly while the leaves are oval-shaped with hairs on them. This kind of plant blooms small flowers that look like balls with tiny white-yellow petals. The fruits of this plant are round and green in color while the leaves have a yellow color.

30. Camphor Tree (cinnamomum camphora) 

Cinnamomum camphora Camphor tree
Forest and Kim Starr Cinnamomum camphora (Camphor tree)

This evergreen is famous for being used in mothballs! The camphor tree can also reach heights of up to 20 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 1 meter. The bark of this kind of tree is reddish-brown, thin, scaly and cracked while the leaves are lance-shaped in shape with hairs on them. While the camphor tree is usually bare, it does bloom small flowers that look like balls with tiny greenish-yellow petals.

31. Banana (musa paradisiaca)

Musa x paradisiaca Banana
Forest and Kim Starr Musa x paradisiaca (Banana)

The banana plant looks like a tree and has many stalks of bananas on it! The leaves of this kind of tree are used to make umbrellas while the fruit is used to make delicious banana pancakes. This type of plant doesn’t have a trunk but has long, thick leaves instead!

32. Cordia Tree (cordia subcordata)

Cordia subcordata
Forest and Kim Starr Cordia subcordata

The cordia tree is a short evergreen Hawaii native that can reach heights of up to 15 meters and has an average trunk circumference of 0.5 meters. The bark of this kind of tree is dark gray, thin and smooth while the leaves are lance-shaped in shape with white hairs on them. This type of plant blooms small flowers that look like balls with tiny yellow petals