One of the most popular flowers grown on Maui is the protea family of flowers. Also called “Sugar Bush” flowers, Protea aren’t native to Hawaii, but Maui growers have become known for the exotic, spiky blooms. Maui’s warm weather and rich volcanic soil are ideal for growing these unusual flowers. Many flower farms are located on the slopes of the mighty Haleakala, the dormant volcano responsible for the formation of East Maui. The dry, temperate climate and rich volcanic soil is a perfect location for growing protea flowers. Originally from Australia and South Africa, protea flowers are now grown in Maui and exported all over the country. Most protea flowers bloom on Maui from December through April.
Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789 chose the name Proteaceae, based on the genus Protea, which in 1767 Carl Linnaeus derived from the name of Proteus, a Greek deity known for his ability to change between many forms. The Protea family is known for its astonishing variety and diversity of flowers and leaves.
You can view protea flowers at tours of the Kula Botanical Garden and the Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm.
The Garden rests at 3,300 feet elevation on Haleakala. Established in 1968 by Warren and Helen McCord as a display garden, the Kula Botanical Garden has evolved into a tourist destination that draws thousands of visitors every year. The Garden has hundreds of varieties of plants to enjoy and photograph. Plants are labeled by their botanical name, common name, and country of origin. Also included in the garden is a collection of native Hawaiian plants.
Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm’s 13.5-acre farm resides at an elevation of roughly 4,000 ft. on the slopes of Haleakala (House of the Sun), and is home to approximately 55,000 lavender plants and 45 different varieties of lavender. Though lavender is not native to Maui, it blooms year round in the cool, dry climate. Olive trees, hydrangea, Protea, succulents and an exceptional variety of other plants can be found on the farm.
The Anuhea Flowers Makawao Shop has a tiny shop in Makawao just big enough to feature their “fresh from the fields” protea in gift boxes, wreaths, and special arrangements. Angels, protea, and face pots dance together in their “Secret Garden” just outside the back door.