Family Name: Rubiaceae
Native to: South Pacific
Gardenia taitensis, commonly known as the tiare flower, is the national flower of the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. This tropical evergreen shrub is native to the highland shores of the South Pacific. The glossy dark green leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem. The creamy white flowers are pinwheel-shaped and have a strong sweet fragrance. Gardenia taitensis has a wide variety of traditional uses. The blooms are often strung into flower necklaces, and infusions are made with water or coconut oil to treat a variety of ailments and to create a perfume-oil.
The Gardenia genus contains approximately 200 species and is a part of the Rubiaceae plant family, along with coffee. The genus was named in honor of Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a Scottish physician and amateur botanist.