The 5 Trees Bursting With Color In Kapolei

If you’ve noticed a blast of color around Kapolei, it’s not your polarized sunglasses going bad. Many of the trees planted around here bloom the brightest in late spring and early summer.

These 5 trees bear responsibility for the most prominent fashion shows you’ve seen.

Royal Poinciana

a royal poinciara tree in kapolei, hawaii
A absolute riot of orange on Kapolei residential streets right now. It’s a native of another island, Madagascar, where it’s now endangered. The Royal Poinciana sure seems to be thriving here.

Rainbow Shower Tree

a rainbow shower tree in kapolei, hawaii
These multicolored blossoms come from a tree with several different names. But we call it the “rainbow shower tree,” and since 1965, this has been the official tree of the City & County of Honolulu.


a plumeria tree in kapolei, hawaii

The intoxicating smell of this classic lei flower is always worth stopping to smell. It’s not actually native—it’s indigenous to Central America, where it graced royal dwellings.

Golden Rain Tree

a golden rain tree in kapolei, hawaii

Native to Southeast Asia, this is the national tree of Thailand. Also known by another, unfortunate name.


a monkeypod tree in kapolei, hawaii
The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi’s representative to Mexico City brought two monkeypod seeds back home in 1847; the monkeypod has been grown as a shade tree ever since.

Where Are The Native Trees?

Perhaps you’ve noticed a commonality among these trees—none are native to Hawaiʻi. According to the US Forest Service’s Common Forest Trees of Hawaiʻi handbook: “The native tree species of Hawaii are mostly scattered in distribution and of small size.” The fact that the islands are isolated and relatively young, geologically-speaking, probably has a lot to do with that, they say.

But a movement is growing to plant more native trees. In 2014, the Honolulu City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring the use of native trees in city landscaping projects.

The foreign trees do at least seem to like it here. Meanwhile the propagation of native shade trees gets filed under #longtermgoals.

All photos by Howzit Kapolei