Pikake: The Fragrant Flower of Hawaii

Pikake, also known as Arabian jasmine or Jasminum sambac, is a fragrant flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It is a popular ornamental plant in Hawaii, known for its delicate white flowers and sweet, intoxicating scent. The name “pikake” is derived from the Hawaiian word for “peacock,” which is a reference to the resemblance of the flower to the bird’s plumage. The pikake flower holds a special place in Hawaiian culture and traditions, and its fragrance is often associated with love, romance, and beauty. In addition to its cultural significance, pikake is also highly valued in perfumery and aromatherapy for its aromatic properties. This article will explore the history, cultural significance, characteristics, growing conditions, uses, conservation efforts, and where to experience pikake in Hawaii.

Key Takeaways

  • Pikake is a fragrant flower native to Southeast Asia and is widely used in Hawaiian culture and traditions.
  • The history and cultural significance of Pikake in Hawaii dates back to the time of Queen Liliuokalani and is often associated with love and romance.
  • Pikake flowers are small, white, and star-shaped, and they thrive in warm, tropical climates with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight.
  • In Hawaiian culture, Pikake is used in leis, haku (head lei), and as a natural perfume, symbolizing love, purity, and beauty.
  • Pikake is highly valued in perfumery and aromatherapy for its sweet, floral scent, and it is often used in luxury fragrances and essential oils.

History and Cultural Significance of Pikake in Hawaii

Pikake was introduced to Hawaii in the late 19th century by Chinese immigrants, and it quickly became a beloved flower in the islands. The sweet fragrance of pikake flowers made it a popular choice for leis, the traditional Hawaiian garlands worn for special occasions and celebrations. The delicate white flowers of pikake are often strung together with other flowers such as plumeria and orchids to create stunning and fragrant leis. In Hawaiian culture, the giving and receiving of leis is a symbol of love, respect, and aloha (love and compassion), and pikake leis are often given as gifts for special occasions such as weddings, graduations, and birthdays. The fragrance of pikake is also associated with the Hawaiian goddess of hula, Laka, and is often used in hula ceremonies and performances as an offering to honor her. The intoxicating scent of pikake has inspired poets and musicians in Hawaii, who have written songs and composed music that pay tribute to the beauty and fragrance of the flower.

Characteristics and Growing Conditions of Pikake

Pikake is a tropical evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. It has glossy dark green leaves and small, waxy, white flowers that bloom year-round. The flowers are star-shaped and have a sweet, floral fragrance that intensifies at night. Pikake thrives in warm, humid climates and prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires regular watering and occasional fertilization to promote healthy growth and abundant flowering. Pikake can be grown in containers or planted directly in the ground, making it a versatile plant for gardens, landscapes, and indoor spaces. In Hawaii, pikake is often found in home gardens, botanical gardens, and public parks, where its fragrant flowers add beauty and charm to the surroundings.

Uses of Pikake in Hawaiian Culture and Traditions

Use Description
Lei Making Pikake flowers are commonly used in making leis, which are worn for special occasions and celebrations.
Perfume The fragrant flowers of Pikake are used to make perfume, which is popular in Hawaiian culture.
Medicinal Purposes In traditional Hawaiian medicine, Pikake is used for its healing properties and as a natural remedy for various ailments.
Cultural Symbol Pikake holds cultural significance and is often used as a symbol in Hawaiian traditions and ceremonies.

In addition to being used in leis and hula ceremonies, pikake has various other uses in Hawaiian culture and traditions. The fragrant flowers are often used to adorn hair as natural hair accessories for hula dancers and for special occasions such as weddings and luaus. The sweet scent of pikake is also used in traditional Hawaiian healing practices, where it is believed to have calming and soothing properties that promote relaxation and well-being. Pikake flowers are sometimes used to make scented oils and perfumes that are used in massage therapy and aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress. The fragrance of pikake is also used in traditional Hawaiian ceremonies and rituals to honor ancestors and connect with the spiritual world. The versatility of pikake in Hawaiian culture reflects its deep-rooted significance as a symbol of love, beauty, and spirituality.

Pikake in Perfumery and Aromatherapy

Pikake is highly valued in perfumery for its sweet, floral fragrance that is reminiscent of jasmine with hints of orange blossom. The essential oil extracted from pikake flowers is used as a base note in perfumes and fragrances, adding a rich, exotic floral scent that lingers on the skin. Pikake perfumes are popular for their romantic and sensual aroma, making them a favorite choice for special occasions and everyday wear. In aromatherapy, pikake essential oil is used to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and uplift the mood. The calming and soothing properties of pikake make it a popular choice for massage oils, bath products, and scented candles that create a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. The exotic fragrance of pikake has captivated perfumers and aromatherapists around the world, making it a sought-after ingredient in luxury fragrances and wellness products.

Conservation Efforts and Challenges for Pikake

Despite its popularity and cultural significance, pikake faces conservation challenges due to habitat loss, overharvesting, and climate change. In Hawaii, efforts are being made to conserve native plant species including pikake through habitat restoration, propagation programs, and public education initiatives. Botanical gardens and conservation organizations are working to preserve pikake populations by collecting seeds, propagating new plants, and reintroducing them into their natural habitats. Conservation efforts also include raising awareness about the importance of protecting native plants such as pikake and promoting sustainable harvesting practices to ensure their long-term survival. Climate change poses a significant threat to pikake and other tropical plants, as rising temperatures and changing weather patterns can disrupt their natural growing conditions. By addressing these conservation challenges and implementing sustainable practices, pikake can continue to thrive in Hawaii for future generations to enjoy.

Where to Experience Pikake in Hawaii

Visitors to Hawaii can experience the beauty and fragrance of pikake at botanical gardens, public parks, and cultural events throughout the islands. Botanical gardens such as the Foster Botanical Garden on Oahu and the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens on Maui showcase a diverse collection of tropical plants including pikake. These gardens offer visitors the opportunity to see pikake in bloom, learn about its cultural significance, and appreciate its aromatic qualities. Public parks such as Queen Kapiolani Park in Waikiki also feature pikake trees that can be admired for their fragrant flowers and lush foliage. Cultural events such as hula performances, lei-making workshops, and flower festivals often incorporate pikake into their programs as a way to celebrate its beauty and significance in Hawaiian culture. Additionally, visitors can find pikake-scented products such as perfumes, soaps, and candles at local shops and markets, allowing them to bring a piece of Hawaii’s fragrant heritage home with them.

If you’re a fan of pikake, you’ll love learning about the history and cultural significance of this beautiful flower. Check out this article on soulposter.com to discover more about the traditional uses and symbolism of pikake in Hawaiian culture.


What is pikake?

Pikake is a type of jasmine flower native to Southeast Asia and Hawaii. It is known for its sweet, floral fragrance and is often used in making leis and perfumes.

What does pikake smell like?

Pikake has a sweet, floral fragrance with hints of citrus and jasmine. It is often described as having a delicate and intoxicating scent.

How is pikake used in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, pikake flowers are commonly used to make leis, which are traditional Hawaiian garlands worn for special occasions and celebrations. The flowers are also used to make perfumes and scented oils.

Is pikake used in traditional medicine?

In some cultures, pikake is believed to have medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. However, scientific evidence supporting its medicinal use is limited.

Can pikake be grown outside of its native region?

Pikake can be grown in tropical and subtropical regions with warm, humid climates. It is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes outside of its native region.

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