Flowers of the Cook Islands – The Petals of Paradise

Posted on 23/12/2019

Summer has arrived in the Cook Islands and with it, the beautiful colours of the flowers that bloom across our tropical paradise. Flowers have always been precious to the Cook Islands’ culture, used in a variety of different ways. They are worn behind the ear, in the hair, as a flower crown and are even used in traditional medicines and remedies.

It’s an important part of the Cook Islands experience and we thought we’d share some of the wonderful flowers you can expect to see during your next tropical holiday.

1. Tipani

We begin with one of the best the Cook Islands has to offer – the beautiful and fragrant Tipani. This wonderful flower is a fantastic example of flora you can expect to see during a visit to the islands. The most common variant produces a white flower with five petals, each of which is touched with a bright shade of yellow as vibrant as the sun. Tipani can also be found with pink petals as well.

2. Hibiscus

If there was ever a flower that personified the tropics it is the Hibiscus, a flower that flourishes here and is famous throughout the world. The Hibiscus flower absolutely loves tropical climates and is one of the most ornamental flowers around. The petals are often richly red though can also be seen in lighter shades of pink, yellow and orange. The flowers also have distinctive lobes with yellow and red tips that reach out from the heart of the flower, making them all the more unique.

3. Gardenia

The Gardenia, known locally as the Tiare Maori, is a special flower to the people of the Cook Islands having travelled with the first settlers to the islands. Featuring 5 – 9, small and simple white petals, the Gardenia is not as showy as some of the other flowers on this list. It does, however, have a pure elegance about it which is why it’s been held so dear to the people here for so many years.

4. Yellow Bells

A real crowd pleaser in the Cook Islands is the Yellow Bells which get their name by looking like little yellow bells. They are small, delicate but extremely attractive flowers that really light up well in the Pacific sun. Interestingly, they can grow in rocky and sandy areas so are often found in and around the coast of the Cook Islands. A great flower that always brings a smile to the face.

5. Heliconia

Heliconia, also known as lobster-claws, is one of the more interesting flowers you’ll come across during your holiday in the Cook Islands. The flowers actually do look a little like lobster claws, mostly red in colour with pointed, snappy green tips. They are an important food source for a lot of the birdlife on the island and are also closely related to the banana tree.

6. Birds of Paradise

The Birds of Paradise flower is another exotic beauty, full of individual character,  colour and flair. Like many of the flowers on this list, its name befits its description with a flower that looks as magnificent as a bird of paradise. Its petals stand pointed and proud and are supported by strong green stems. The flowers themselves are often seen in orange and purple.

7. Red Ginger

A flower that never fails to get attention is the Red Ginger, originally from Malaysia but one that has managed to make itself quite at home in our island in the Pacific. With a cone-shaped plume, the bright red flowers of the Red Ginger stand out strongly against its green leafy surroundings. Not to be confused for edible ginger, Red Ginger has however been used for medicinal purposes.

8. Flame Tree

The Flame Tree is another that looks exactly as it sounds, especially in full bloom, as a tree of flames. This is because of the bright red flowers that adorn it so brilliantly. Flame Trees are quite tall, growing to a height of around 15 metres and can be seen from far and wide. They are native to Madagascar but the ones in the Cook Islands were brought from Sri Lanka by the first British resident of the Cook Islands, Frederick Moss.

9. Fringed Hibiscus

Having already named the Hibiscus on our list, we couldn’t help but include this amazing variant known as the Fringed Hibiscus. The Fringed Hibiscus deserves its special mention because of the unique way it dangles delicately from its stems while its petals arc upwards towards the sky. It’s also known as the Japanese Lantern giving you an idea of just how graceful this flower is.

10. Giant Red Ixora

Last but by no means least, a flower that can’t be missed in the Cook Islands is the Giant Red Ixora. These flowering evergreens are another that love the tropical conditions of the Pacific and show their appreciation with a generously sized bloom. Their flowers are predominantly red but shades of orange can also sometimes be found. Strong and abundant, you’ll often see them planted as hedges which come to life dramatically in the summer.

The Amazing Flowers of the Cook Islands

We hope you’ve enjoyed our pick of the incredible flowers of the Cook Islands just as much as we’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. We’re lucky enough to have many of these flowers ourselves at Pacific Resort Rarotonga and Pacific Resort Aitutaki and you can even do a self-guided tour of our gardens when you get here!

It’s just another thing to look forward to during your dream vacation in the Cook Islands.