North Shore farm invites public to smell world’s rarest plumeria flowers

Annalisa Burgos joins the Little family for a tour of their plumeria farm on Oahu's North Shore, which offers public tours.
Published: May. 21, 2023 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Business is blooming at Little Plumeria Farms on Oahu’s North Shore.

“This one is actually called Hawaiian Rose for two reasons. The fragrance actually smells like a rose. And just the way it twirls open. It’s got that gold color. It’s super good for making leis,” said Clark Little, one of three generations who run the 20-acre Haleiwa farm.

This year, the family mark a big anniversary. For 50 years, patriarch Jim Little quietly cultivated a budding empire.

His son Clark, a renowned surf photographer, and grandson Dane convinced him to open up to public tours – sharing aloha for flowers fit for royalty.

“When King Kamehameha or Duke Kahanamoku when they put leis, they put plumeria, because it’s special, it’s fragrant, it lasts long. And so it has so much history, it’s not a native, but it has so much history in Hawaii, that it’s cool to be able to spread the aloha, share how we grow plumeria, agriculture,” Clark Little said.

Clark and Dane give HNN a tour of some of the rare hybrid varieties of plumeria they cultivate. It’s a labor of love. A typical plumeria plant can take 2-3 years before it begins to flower.

“He has hundreds of different hybrid trees. They’re called, you know, JL varieties, Jim Little right. So he puts his stamp on there for JL,” he said.

From Hawaiian Fire to Hawaiian Coral – Metallica to Makaha Sun – Ruffles to Lilikoi – each has its own unique colors, shape, smell, and texture.

Among the aromas of baby powder, cinnamon, perfume, peaches, even Pez candy, some aren’t so sweet.

“Sometimes you can get something a little bit pungent,” Dane Little said.

We smell one variety that has a sewer-like scent. The Littles say they likely won’t give it a name.

The family identify seven or eight new varieties each year and decide on names together. Each family member has their own rare hybrid named after them.

And the varieties occur naturally.

Jim Little laid the foundation by cross pollinating varieties to create his first hybrids, but now nature and helpful bugs do most of the work.

“They do it by themselves,” Dane Little said.

“It’s like having children, right? I mean, we actually want the mom to fool around because we want to have different colors,” Clark Little said.

Now the Littles are sharing their passion and knowledge with flower fans from across the world. Tours are scheduled to run now through Oct. 31.

A 1-hour partially guided tour runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m.

A 90-minute private tour is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:15 a.m.

To book and for more information, visit or call (808) 367-4119.