The naupaka shrub is known for its unique appearance and deep connection to Hawaiian culture. According to Hui Kū Maoli Ola, it is believed that there are nine species of the indigenous plant, two that can be found on most beaches and seven that grow in the mountains. While each species has its own notable feature such as its color of the petals and fruit, the shrub collectively is known for its petals, which grow as half of a flower.
The reason why naupaka grows this way is explained by the legend of Princess Naupaka and her lover, Kauʻi. In ancient times, royalty and commoners were forbidden from being together, so Naupaka and Kauʻi were separated from each other; Naupaka was forced to live in the mountains and Kauʻi by the ocean. The website Hawaiian Words details that the naupaka shrubs saw how heartbroken the partners were, and to commemorate their love, started to bloom in halves. This way, if two naupaka flowers were placed together, a full flower would form.