State symbols are often adopted after a collaborative effort by citizens and students to have a significant item recognized for its importance to the state. States such as Hawaii, and many others began to adopt some of their own official state symbols several decades ago, and in some cases, over 100 years ago. A state symbol can come in the form of state animals, birds, flowers, musical instruments, a dance, nicknames, state seals, and much more.
Citizens, children, and educational institutions often research a particular symbol and make a request for a bill, tracking it all the way through the legislative process with the hope that it is enacted, and a new state symbol is announced for Hawaii. Like other states, there are many Hawaii state symbols. The Hawaii state bird and flower are the Yellow Hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) and the Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandwicensis).
What is the Hawaii State Bird?
The Hawaiian goose, or, as people from the islands call it “nene” has been the bird to officially represent the state since 1957. This was shortly after Hawaii was announced as the 50th official U.S. state. Unlike most bird species, the male and female nene are completely identical in appearance.
These awesome birds typically swim around in the wild, totally unphased by predators and cold temperatures, meaning they do not fly as much as other geese due to their wings being less strong. Additionally, their feet are only half as webbed as other geese species, and their toes are much longer for climbing the rocky mountains and Hawaiian terrain.
Unfortunately, these beautiful birds are considered to be endangered now. How many nene geese are left? It is estimated that the population stands at about 2,500 birds.
What is the Hawaii State Flower?
The beautiful and unique yellow hibiscus flower, which also goes by the names of Pua Aloalo and Ma’o-Hau-hele, has been the flower to officially represent the state of Hawaii since 1988. What makes Hawaii so special when it comes to its state flowers is that there are other flowers that represent some of the other islands, however, the yellow hibiscus represents them all!
Yellow hibiscus flowers are incredibly rare to come across, and are in fact, an endangered species unfortunately, with only a few left in the wild. They do still grow on all the main Hawaiian islands, with a few exeptions. Here is a list of the other Hawaiian flowers:
- Bird of Paradise.
- Hawaiian Gardenia.
- Blue Ginger.
- Hawaiian Hibiscus.
- ‘Uki ‘Uki (Hawaiian Lily).
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Aloha State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in its state bird and flower. These interesting facts about Hawaii and a whole host of others are what makes the state so unique and fascinating to those that live there, those that are planning to visit or are researching the historical events of the state and what they symbolize.