In honor of our Puakenikeni collaboration print with Jana Lam, we wanted to talk about the history of the beloved Puakenikeni flower and shed some light on why we’re so excited about this print!
The Puakenikeni flower is a favorite among many in Hawai’i and throughout the Pacific.
It is known for its sweet fragrance, beauty when made into lei, and stunning color change throughout its phases of life.
The Puakenikeni got its name years ago when lei makers would sell Puakenikeni lei during the Steamer Days — a time during the late 1800s - mid 1900s when the boats would pull into the port and sailors and visitors would arrive off of the ships. Lei makers would sell the Puakenikeni lei for 10 cents, which led for the name to be born; Pua meaning “flower” and “kenikeni” meaning “10 cents, or a dime”. To sum it up, Puakenikeni also means “10 cent flower”!
It’s said that the Puakenikeni flower arrived in Hawai’i around the late 1800s and grew in popularity a few decades later in the 1920s. Puakenikeni is not indigenous to Hawai’i, but it is indigenous to Northern Australia and the Caroline islands, and quickly became a popular flower across the entire Pacific!
The Puakenikeni has many different meanings and significance. It is sacred in many cultures, and in Tahiti they believe the “first pua tree was brought from the tenth heaven by Tane, god of the forests”. In Mangaian culture, “the pua tree was the tree that guarded the entrance to the land of the spirits in the underworld.”
About the Flower
As we mentioned earlier, the color of the Puakenikeni changes during its lifespan. You can expect a white Puakenikeni flower on the first day it blooms, the second day it is more of a “buttery yellow” and by the third day the flower is a “creamy orange” color. And the best part? The flower maintains its delicious scent the entire time!
The Puakenikeni flower’s smell is actually so fragrant, it’s considered one of the most fragrant flowers in the world. Some will refer to it as “the perfume flower tree”, as many will create oils and perfumes out of the strong smell.
And with all the history, significance, and beauty this flower is known for, we are thrilled to finally release a Puakenikeni print with the one and only Jana Lam!
We’ve received many requests for a Puakenikeni print in recent years, and here at Coco Moon, we are fans of this flower just as much as you! We hope you love this bright, fun print that represents such an iconic flower across our islands, and the Pacific.