Ma`o Hau Hele (24 in x 36 in)
oil on canvas, 2015
24 in x 36 in
Includes white floater frame
There are perhaps as many as 300 species worldwide in the genus Hibiscus. However, ma`o hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is found only in Hawai`i and federally listed as an endangered species. According to botanist David Lorence, “Hibsicus brackenridgei has been adopted as the official state flower of Hawai`i. Showy blooms of brilliant chrome yellow first catch the eye. [The species has] five delicately creped petals and a column of stamens tipped by five stigmas." The plant was once found on all the main islands except Ni`ihau and Kaho`olawe, but is threatened by alien animals, fire and weeds.
Traditionally, hau blossoms, are an ancient symbol of the ephemeral human soul. According to Anne Kepler, they unfurl yellow in the morning, turn orange in the afternoon, and wither to a dark pinkish orange by nightfall. The flowers are replaced daily.