Pikake Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Colors
A small and delicate, yet extremely fragrant flower, pikake is the Hawaiian name for Jasminum sambac, which is a jasmine native to tropical Asia. It is one of the dozen ornamental Jasminum species of Hawaii. In the Philippines, this is the national flower, called Sampaguita. In India, it’s called Gunda mallige, the Arabian jasmine in mainland USA, and mo li in a few places in China.
In Hawaii, pikake flowers are grown in landscapes, gardens, and commercially for making leis (a garland or a wreath). The buds are strung soon after being harvested, to make a lei. Once a flowering flush begins, based on the time of the year, these plants flower for 5-10 days or longer.
The Jasminum sambac of the Olive family Oleaceae is a native Indian species. This evergreen vine or shrub has flowers blooming all through the year, being produced in clusters of 3-12 on branch ends. The bud is oval-shaped before blooming, and once it opens, it is star-shaped. The typical climate that supports the growth of this plant is a humid tropical-type climate.
The shrub grows about 2-3 feet wide and almost 6 feet tall, displaying drought-resistant characteristics. While it grows moderately during the spring and summer, the growth is slower during the cold winters. With characteristics of a bush and vine, the branches bear rich green, round or oval paired leaves with prominently visible veins.
The Jasminum sambac has four distinct types of flower:
1. The single-flowered variety with ovate or acute white petals. This variety is the one that is used in Hawaii for lei-making and is grown commercially.
2. A semi-double variety that is not used for making leis has flowers with elongated white petals. The reason these are not used for lei making is due to the greater number of petals; the stems of the flower buds can’t be pushed into the bud below it.
3. Rose pikake is a double-flowered variety and has petals that are white and rounded. It structurally resembles a rose flower. However, this variety produces a smaller number of flowers per plant when compared to the single or semi-double varieties of pikake.
4. Another variety that is multi-whorled has tightly packed petals, almost resembling a small, white carnation. Similar to the rose pikake, this variety also produces a smaller number of flowers, when compared to the other varieties.
The single and semi-double varieties reach the peak of producing flowers between March and September, while the winter months witness far fewer flowers. On the other hand, the rose and the multi-whorled pikake witness peak flower production between April and August, while the remaining months have comparatively fewer flowers. Based on the location and weather conditions, flowering periods usually vary.
What do Pikake Flowers Symbolize?
Pikake flower meaning is romance and love. Brides commonly wear pikake flower leis; it is popularly worn by others to weddings, mostly on their hair.
Women commonly wear pikake flower leis on birthdays, anniversaries, and many other occasions. This implies pikake flower meaning as symbolic of celebration. Apart from this, it’s also worn by hula dancers and used to honor guests. Pikake flowers meaning when presented as pikake garlands, leis, or wreaths symbolizes respect and honor.
Pikake flower meaning is also to honor gods. Native Hawaiians’ religion and the hula custom are represented by the leis worn.
In the earlier days, pikake flowers were adorned to symbolize royalty. Pikake flower meaning is not just royalty these days, but celebration.
What do the Various Colors of the Pikake Flower Mean?
Typically, pikake flowers are white. The immature, harvested buds tend to be slightly green in color, and such a pikake flower meaning implies it doesn’t possess the strong pikake fragrance. Jasminum sambac, in general, have white flowers that are strongly scented.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Pikake Flower
· The pikake flower meaning has been derived from the Hawaiian word for peacock. This is because the Hawaiian princess Ka’iulani loved the bird and the flowers.
· This flower was introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the 1800s and was quick to become a royal favorite because of its strong fragrance.
· In 1753, the plant was described by Carl Linnaeus as Nyctantheas sambac in his famous book’s first edition (Systema Naturae). It was only in 1789 that the plant was reclassified to the Jasminum genus by William Aiton, who also coined the name Arabian jasmine.
· In India, the Philippines, China, and Thailand, this flower is grown for commercial purposes. The fresh, fragrant flowers are used for producing perfume and tea flavoring.
· Lei made of pikake flowers are commonly presented to tourists arriving or leaving Hawaii. This led to its increased popularity in the United States.
· The Jasminum sambac or pikake flowers bloom at night (around 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.)
· To keep the flowers fresh until worn, they’re kept refrigerated while wrapped in wax paper.
· Pikake flowers are harvested between 7:00 – 10:00 a.m. since they contain the most perfume around this time of the day. Although, during winter, delayed harvesting is done. Typically around mid-day, giving the buds the time to mature.
· The mature buds are white, while buds that aren’t mature yet are a light creamy green-yellow color. These young buds, if harvested, won’t open or possess the typical pikake fragrance.
· Pikake leis were used by Native Hawaiians for signifying their ranks and royalty.
· The Polynesian Native Hawaiians introduced the tradition of making and wearing lei with their arrival.
· Every year, May 1st is celebrated as Lei Day, for honoring the custom of lei making.
· Commercially grown pikake flowers yield a harvest of about 8,000 – 60,000 flower buds per acre per day in the peak seasons.
Best Time to Gift Someone Pikake Flowers
· In Hawaii, and across Polynesia, fragrant leis made of fresh pikake strung together are gifted as a mark of honor. This includes visiting dignitaries, graduates, or when loved ones depart.
· Alternatively, the fragrances or oils made of pikake flowers could be presented as a gift. The strong fragrance of these flowers is emitted even from these products quite pleasingly.