Beach Naupaka Flowers (Scaevola sericea)

Scaevola sericea

Beach Naupaka (Scaevola sericea)
Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii

One of the most common coastal shrubs in Hawaii is the Beach Naupaka (Scaevola sericea) -- called 'naupaka kahakai' in the Hawaiian language.  This bushy shrub with the glossy green leaves grows naturally above the tide line at beaches all over the islands.   It is salt-tolerant and easy to cultivate, so it also is used as a landscaping hedge, especially at elevations near sea level.

Naupaka kahakai, pictured here, is the beach naupaka.  Naupaka kuahiwi (Scaevola chamissoniana) is a closely related shrub that grows in the mountains.  Both have delicate white blossoms that look like half-flowers.

A Hawaiian legend tells us why there are two kinds of Naupaka, and why the flowers look like half-flowers.   There are several versions of the legend, and the details vary, but the gist is this: Two young lovers were forbidden to be together.  One of the pair had to live in the mountains and the other had to live near the ocean.  The girl picked a white flower and cut it in two, giving half to her lover and keeping the other half for herself.  Eventually the gods turned each of the lovers into a shrub that bore a half-flower.  One of those shrubs was made to grow in the mountains, and the other at the beach.


Becky said...

Interesting flower Bobbie, and even more interesting is the story.

BNS said...

Thanks, Becky.

GejorA said...

beautiful flower :) how I can get it here ??