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Get “Green” and Give Your Wedding an Authentic Touch by Selecting Local Flowers

Words by Jennifer Stein
Get “Green” and Give Your Wedding an Authentic Touch by Selecting Local Flowers
Words by Sharon Naylor

The perfect getaway wedding becomes even more perfect when it’s infused with the beauty, scents and symbolism of its island location, and when you incorporate the official island flower of your locale; you bring in far more than a pretty bloom and an exotic scent. By using the bloom each island’s population has voted as its emblem, you honor the island’s history and lore, and your wedding, in turn, takes on an air of authenticity and a sense of rightness.
 
When you use the island’s official flower, you’re making an eco-friendly decision to use local blooms rather than wasting energy and carbon offsets by jetting in mainland flowers. Your on-site coordinator or floral designer can point you towards local, meaningful, in-season and symbolic flowers for your big day, all you have to do is ask.
 
One very important thing to keep in mind: some island flowers have been chosen by that island’s government as their official island flower because it’s endangered. In the Cayman Islands, for instance, the Wild Banana Orchid is a nationally protected species, so if you’re discovered picking these on the side of the road to use in your bridal bouquet, you’re in a lot of trouble. Always ask if an official bloom is on the “do not use” list, and be encouraged by the fact that you can use so many of the island’s other notable fauna for your authentic island wedding celebration.
 
Here are some of the top destinations and their official island flower FYIs:
 
Hawaii
While you might hear that Hawaii’s official flower is the Hibiscus, the deeper truth is that each of the Hawaiian Islands claims its own official flower:

Kauai
Official Flower: Green Mokihana Berry
Flower FYI: The green mokihana berry is not actually a flower, but is a plant with a green berry, often used in lei-making. This berry is said to smell like anise.
Oahu
Official Flower: Yellow Ilima
Flower FYI: Legend says the ilima was used by Hawaiian royalty in their wedding rites.
Lanai
Official Flower: Yellow and Orange Kaunaoa
Flower FYI: Known as an air plant, also called the native dodder.
Molokai
Official Flower: White Kukui Blossom
Flower FYI: These tiny white flowers are actually the blossom of the candlenut tree.
Maui
Official Flower: Pink Lokelani
Flower FYI: Also known as the pink cottage rose or the pink damask rose, this is the only Hawaiian Island official flower that is not native to its island.
Big Island of Hawaii
Official Flower: Red Ohia
Flower FYI: Also known as the Lehua, these yellow, orange or white flowers are long-symbolized as an offering to Pele, the volcano goddess of Hawaii, for her protection.
 
Other native flowers used often in Hawaiian destination weddings include the hibiscus, bird of paradise, plumeria, tiare (similar to the gardenia), white ginger blossom, protea, cymbidium orchid, and a wide range of orchid varieties.
 
 
Caribbean and Other Islands
 
St Lucia
Official Flower: Red Rose
Flower FYI: Also popular for St. Lucia weddings: heliconia, orchids, bird of paradise, ginger lilies and coconut palms
 
Bahamas
Official Flower: Yellow Elder Flower
Flower FYI: Some Caribbean island lore holds that the elder flower protects against evil spirits. These yellow, bell-shaped flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
 
Bermuda
Official Flower: Bermudiana Flower
Flower FYI: Bermuda is known for its lavish botanical gardens and perfumeries, with native island blooms such as Bermuda passion flower, hibiscus, Bermuda Easter lilies, coralita (masses of small pink flowers), morning glory and roses.
 
Jamaica
Official Flower: Lignum Vitae
Flower FYI: The lignum vitae was discovered by Christopher Columbus; other popular island flowers include roses, passionflower, daisies, red, orange and yellow heliconia, Jamaican orchids, and red fern-like Poinciana.
 
The Cayman Islands
Official Flower: Wild Banana Orchid
Flower FYI: Since the wild banana orchid is a protected type of flower on the island, wedding designs often include a few of these signature blooms: yellow mastics, black mastics and silver thatch palm.
 
Fiji
Official Flower: Tagimoucia Flower
Flower FYI: This rare flower grows high up in the mountains and is a challenge to find, therefore it’s quite valuable. Island lore, however, connects this flower to legends of a small child’s or princess’s tears, and the term ‘tagimoucia’ means ‘to cry in your sleep.’ So if you’re superstitious, consider other native island flowers for your wedding.
 
Dominican Republic
Official Flower: Bayahibe Rose
Flower FYI: Also called the ‘pereskia,’ this flower is often paired with Dominican plata (purple) and cana (pink), coconut palm, royal palm, red and white mangroves, ferns, cacti and hundreds of orchid species.
 
Official flowers aren’t just for islands. Countries and states, even different regions of states, claim their own signature flowers that are perfect additions to local florals and greenery for your destination wedding. Here are some examples of locations and their official flowers:
Italy: Cyclamen
France: Fleur de Lis (iris)
Ireland: Shamrock
Japan: Cherry Blossom
Vermont: Red Clover
Colorado: Columbine
Georgia: Cherokee Rose
Florida: Orange Blossom
New Hampshire: Purple Lilac

To find out the official flower for your wedding’s location stateside, visit www.statesymbolsusa.org or www.50states.com.

To find out additional islands’ or countries’ emblem flowers, contact their tourism departments, found through the Tourism Office Worldwide Directory: www.towd.com.

Top photo courtesy of Amity Mason
Middle photo courtesy of Marcelo Piotti with the Bermuda Department of Tourism
Flowers by Anny Heid

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