Brief Summary

The genus Plumeria includes a handful of species of trees and shrubs, all of them native to the New World tropics (the West Indies, Mexico, and Central and South America), that are renowned for their beautiful and fragrant flowers (Mabberley 2008). To many, Plumeria flowers (or frangipani, as they are often known in English), capture the essence of the beauty of the tropics. Plumeria--especially P. rubra and P. obtusa--are widely planted as ornamentals throughout the tropics, especially in southern and southeastern Asia, and many different cultivars have now been developed (as can be seen here). Plumeria alba is the national flower of Nicaragua. Plumeria is the national flower of Laos and (although not native even to the Asian continent) has acquired major cultural significance in Laos and neighboring countries, as is evident from a search on YouTube for "Dok Champa" (Plumeria flower). In Hawaii, millions of P. rubra flowers are produced and sold each year for use in leis (traditional floral necklaces).

Plumeria rubra is a small (to 8 m tall) ornamental tree with milky juice (latex) that is widely cultivated for its beautiful clusters of very fragrant large, tubular flowers. The flowers are often red, rose-colored, or purple-tinged, but some cultivars have yellow flowers or are white with a yellow mark at the base of each lobe, among other color combinations. White-flowered cultivars are sometimes mistakenly referred to as P. alba, but P. alba has narrower lance-shaped leaves (elliptical in P. rubra) that are densely white hairy beneath. (Little and Wadsworth 1964) Plumeria rubra flowers produce no floral nectar reward, but appear to be generalized mimics of other hawkmoth-pollinated flowers. Haber (1984) found that P. rubra was possibly the most abundant hawkmoth-pollinated plant in tropical deciduous forests of Costa Rica during much of its extended blooming period. However, he found that visitation rates and fruit set were exceptionally low and that hawkmoths in a flight cage quickly learned to avoid nectarless Plumeria flowers. (Haber 1984)

Plumeria alba is a conspicuous component of many tropical dry forests in the Caribbean and is well known for its association with the hawkmoth Pseudosphinx tetrio, for which it is a primary host. Plumeria alba is common in the scrub forest habitat found on many Caribbean islands. Plumeria alba trees are 3 to 7 m in height, with thick stems that produce abundant, white, milky latex from the leaves, stems, and flowers. The leaves may be 1.5 to 5 cm wide and more than 30 cm long and (like those of P. rubra) are alternately arranged and often clustered at branch tips. (Little and Wadsworth 1964; Santiago-Blay 1985; Sloan et al. 2006 and references therein)

The genus name Plumeria is in honor of the French Franciscan monk and botanist Charles Plumier, an important 17th century botanical explorer.

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Depth range based on 6 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1 - 1
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:46
Specimens with Sequences:65
Specimens with Barcodes:50
Species With Barcodes:8
Public Records:25
Public Species:5
Public BINs:0
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"Frangipani" redirects here. For other uses, see Frangipani (disambiguation).

Plumeria (/plˈmiəriə/; common name Frangipani[citation needed]) is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.[1] It contains primarily deciduous shrubs and small trees. They are native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Brazil[2][3] but can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.


Plumeria is related to the Oleander, Nerium oleander, and both possess an irritant, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Contact with the sap may irritate eyes and skin.[4] Each of the separate species of Plumeria bears differently shaped, alternate leaves with distinct form and growth habits. The leaves of P. alba are quite narrow and corrugated, whereas leaves of P. pudica have an elongated shape and glossy, dark-green color. P. pudica is one of the everblooming types with non-deciduous, evergreen leaves. Another species that retains leaves and flowers in winter is P. obtusa; though its common name is "Singapore," it is originally from Colombia.

Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, however, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

Plumeria species may be propagated easily from cuttings of leafless stem tips in spring. Cuttings are allowed to dry at the base before planting in well-drained soil. Cuttings are particularly susceptible to rot in moist soil.

In order to get the most from a plumeria plant with respect to growth, size, blooms, and scent, there is a fine balance that must be maintained. Ideally, a plumeria is in its element when it can have plenty of sun and appropriate water, so as to maintain soil moistness just above a state of dryness. On the other hand, if the plant receives a lesser amount of sun, then a lesser amount of watering is necessary - again, to ensure that soil moistness stays just above the dry state. The more sun, the more water. The less sun, the less water. A common mistake of novice plumeria growers is to overwater the plant when it is not able to be exposed to enough sun, thereby resulting in a rotted root system. Conversely, if a plumeria plant is able to receive maximum exposure to the sun, but they aren't watered enough, the plant will die.

Propagation can also be by tissue culture from cuttings of freshly elongated stems or aseptically germinated seed. Pruning is best accomplished in the winter for deciduous varieties, or when cuttings are desired.

There are more than 300 named varieties of Plumeria.[citation needed]

Etymology and common names[edit]

The genus is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier, who traveled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name "frangipani" comes from a sixteenth-century marquess of the noble family in Italy who invented a plumeria-scented perfume. Many English speakers also simply use the generic name "plumeria".

In Persian, the name is "yas" or "yasmin". In India, the name is "champa" or "chafa", in Telugu "Deva ganneru" (divine nerium), in Manipuri "Khagi Leihao" . In Hawaii, the name is "melia", although common usage is still "plumeria". In Sri Lanka, it is referred to as araliya and (in English) as the Temple Tree. In Cantonese, it is known as 'gaai daan fa' or the 'egg yolk flower' tree. The name 'Leelawadee' (originating from Thai)[5][6] is found occasionally. In Indonesia, where the flower has been commonly associated with Balinese culture, it is known as "Kamboja". In French Polynesia it is called a Tiare tree.

In culture[edit]

In Mesoamerica Plumerias have carried complex symbolic significance for over 2000 years, with striking examples from the Maya and Aztec periods into the present [7]

Frangipani trunk in Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Flowering tree of Plumeria rubra decorating a garden in Tel Aviv, Israel.

These are now common naturalised plants in southern and southeastern Asia. In local folk beliefs they provide shelter to ghosts and demons. The scent of the Plumeria has been associated with a vampire in Malay folklore, the pontianak; frangipani trees are often planted in cemeteries. They are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures.

In several Pacific islands, such as Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga, and the Cook Islands Plumeria species are used for making leis.[8] In modern Polynesian culture, the flower can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status - over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken.

P. alba is the national flower of Nicaragua and Laos, where it is known under the local name "Sacuanjoche" (Nicaragua) and "Champa" (Laos).

In some Bengali culture most white flowers, and, in particular, plumeria (Bengali, চম্পা chômpa or চাঁপা chãpa), are associated with funerals and death.

In the Philippines and Indonesia, Plumeria, which is known in Tagalog as Kalachuchi, often is associated with ghosts and graveyards. Plumerias often are planted on cemetery grounds in both countries. They are also common ornamental plants in houses, parks, parking lots, etc. in the Philippines. Balinese Hindus use the flowers in their temple offerings.

Indian incenses fragranced with Plumeria (Plumeria rubra) have "champa" in their names. For example, Nag Champa is an incense containing a fragrance combining Plumeria and sandalwood. While Plumeria is an ingredient in Indian champa incense, the extent of its use varies between family recipes. Most champa incenses also incorporate other tree resins, such as Halmaddi (Ailanthus triphysa) and Benzoin resin, as well as other floral ingredients, including Champaca (Magnolia champaca), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), and Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) to produce a more intense, Plumeria-like aroma.[9]

In southern India, western Ghat (Karnataka's) local people use cream colored Plumeria in weddings. The groom and bride exchange Plumeria garland at the wedding. It is alternatively called Devaganagalu or Devakanagalu (God's Plumeria). Red colored flowers are not used in weddings. Plumeria plants are found in most of the temples in these regions.

In Sri Lankan tradition, Plumeria is associated with worship. One of the heavenly damsels in the frescoes of the fifth-century rock fortress Sigiriya holds a 5-petalled flower in her right hand that is indistinguishable from Plumeria.[10]

In Eastern Africa, frangipani are sometimes referred to in Swahili love poems.[11]

Some species of Plumeria have been studied for their potential medicinal value.[12]

Literary occurrences[edit]

  • 1819 - P. B. Shelley "The champak odours fail / Like sweet thoughts in a dream," line from "Indian Serenade".[13]
  • 1884 - In Huysmans's "À rebours" the persistent odor of frangipani troubles Jean des Esseintes.
  • 1890 - In Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry's wife's perfume leaves the scent of frangipani to linger in the room, likely referencing the work of Huysmans.
  • 1905 - Sarojini Naidu "Where upon the champa boughs the champa buds are blowing;" line from the poem entitled 'Village-Song' from her collection entitled The Golden Threshold.[14]
  • 1913 - Rabindranath Tagore story entitled 'The Champa Flower' from the collection Crescent Moon.[15][16]
  • 1957 - Doris Lessing's short story Flight, from her collection 'The Habit of Loving' includes several references to the frangipani tree - "Her hair fell down her back in a wave of sunlight, and her long bare legs repeated the angles of the frangipani stems; bare, shining-brown stems among patterns of pale blossoms."[17]
  • 1977 - The song Winter in America by Australian singer/songwriter Doug Ashdown contains the line "The Frangipani opens up to kiss the salty air".
  • 1977 - In The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Pinkwater, the main character, Mr. Plumbean, "planted palm trees, baobabs, thorn bushes, onions, and frangipani" in order to make his house and yard "look like all [his] dreams." [18]
  • 1978 - Panama novel by Thomas McGuane "But I looked down through spinning air filled with frangipani and rock and roll and saw how quickly you are alone..."
  • 1985 - The book "Perfume", the character Baldini wears it
  • 1996 - "Under the Frangipani" (A Varanda do Frangipani) by Mozambican Mia Couto,[19] who allegorises the passage of time as the shedding of the tree's flowers and the protagonists' departure from their shattered world as merging into the tree's roots.
  • 1986-"Frangipani House" by Beryl Gilroy
  • 1999- Tori Amos mentions Frangipani in her song "Datura" released on her album To Venus and Back referring to what she had in her garden that was destroyed.
  • 2011 - "The Pink House at Appleton" novel by Jonathan Braham "He drove where the frangipani grew wild, where the estate trees were not pruned and where Boyd had once been with Vincent." ISBN 978-1-84876-745-4


Accepted species[2]

  1. Plumeria alba L. - Puerto Rico, Lesser Antilles
  2. Plumeria clusioides Griseb. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
  3. Plumeria cubensis Urb. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
  4. Plumeria ekmanii Urb. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
  5. Plumeria emarginata Griseb. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
  6. Plumeria filifolia Griseb. - Cuba
  7. Plumeria inodora Jacq. - Guyana, Colombia, Venezuela (incl Venezuelan islands in Caribbean)
  8. Plumeria krugii Urb. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Puerto Rico
  9. Plumeria lanata Britton (a synonym of Plumeria obtusa var. sericifolia (C.Wright ex Griseb.) Woodson [21]) - Cuba
  10. Plumeria magna Zanoni & M.M.Mejía - Dominican Republic
  11. Plumeria montana Britton & P.Wilson (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
  12. Plumeria obtusa L. - West Indies including Bahamas; southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Florida; naturalized in China
  13. Plumeria pudica Jacq. - Panama, Colombia, Venezuela (incl Venezuelan islands in Caribbean)
  14. Plumeria rubra L. - Mexico, Central America, Venezuela; naturalized in China, the Himalayas, West Indies, South America, and numerous oceanic islands
  15. Plumeria sericifolia C.Wright ex Griseb. (now demoted to Plumeria obtusa var. sericifolia (C.Wright ex Griseb.) Woodson [21]) - Cuba
  16. Plumeria × stenopetala Urb. - Hispaniola
  17. Plumeria subsessilis A.DC. - Hispaniola
  18. Plumeria trinitensis Britton (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa var. sericifolia (C.Wright ex Griseb.) Woodson [21]) - Cuba
  19. Plumeria tuberculata G.Lodd. (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa var. sericifolia (C.Wright ex Griseb.) Woodson [21]) - Hispaniola, Bahamas
  20. Plumeria venosa Britton (now a synonym of Plumeria obtusa L. [20]) - Cuba
Formerly included in genus[2]
  1. Plumeria ambigua Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  2. Plumeria angustiflora Spruce ex Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus attenuatus (Benth.) Woodson
  3. Plumeria articulata Vahl = Himatanthus articulatus (Vahl) Woodson
  4. Plumeria attenuata Benth = Himatanthus attenuatus (Benth.) Woodson
  5. Plumeria bracteata A.DC. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  6. Plumeria drastica Mart. = Himatanthus drasticus (Mart.) Plumel
  7. Plumeria fallax Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus drasticus (Mart.) Plumel
  8. Plumeria floribunda var floribunda = Himatanthus articulatus (Vahl) Woodson
  9. Plumeria floribunda var. acutifolia Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  10. Plumeria floribunda var. calycina Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  11. Plumeria floribunda var. crassipes Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  12. Plumeria hilariana Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  13. Plumeria lancifolia Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  14. Plumeria latifolia Pilg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  15. Plumeria martii Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  16. Plumeria microcalyx Standl. = Himatanthus articulatus (Vahl) Woodson
  17. Plumeria mulongo Benth. = Himatanthus attenuatus (Benth.) Woodson
  18. Plumeria obovata Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  19. Plumeria oligoneura Malme = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  20. Plumeria phagedaenica Benth. ex Müll.Arg. 1860 not Mart. 1831 = Himatanthus drasticus (Mart.) Plumel
  21. Plumeria phagedaenica Mart. 1831 not Benth. ex Müll.Arg. 1860= Himatanthus phagedaenicus (Mart.) Woodson
  22. Plumeria puberula Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  23. Plumeria retusa Lam. = Tabernaemontana retusa (Lam.) Pichon
  24. Plumeria revoluta Huber = Himatanthus stenophyllus Plumel
  25. Plumeria speciosa Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus bracteatus (A.DC.) Woodson
  26. Plumeria sucuuba Spruce ex Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus articulatus (Vahl) Woodson
  27. Plumeria tarapotensis K.Schum. ex Markgr. = Himatanthus tarapotensis (K.Schum. ex Markgr.) Plumel
  28. Plumeria velutina Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson
  29. Plumeria warmingii Müll.Arg. = Himatanthus obovatus (Müll.Arg.) Woodson


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Plumeria L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-03-14. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ Urs Eggli, ed. (2002). Illustrated Handbook on Succulent Plants. 5: Dicotyledons. Springer. p. 16. ISBN 978-3-540-41966-2. 
  4. ^ College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). Ornamentals and Flowers. Feb. 1998. OF-24.
  5. ^ "KohSamui-Info" (in German). Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  6. ^ "The Lantom or Leelawadee Flowering Tree of Thailand" (in German). Thailand-travel-guide.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  7. ^ "Zumbroich, Thomas J. 2013. 'Plumerias the Color of Roseate Spoonbills'- Continuity and Transition in the Symbolism of Plumeria L. in Mesoamerica. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 11:341-363". Retrieved 2015-03-10. 
  8. ^ Jones, Jay (April 22, 2008). "Hawaii keeps the lei-making tradition alive". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Kottegoda, S R, Flowers of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 1994; pp xiii-xiv
  11. ^ Knappert, Jan (1972) An Anthology of Swahili Love Poetry, University of California Press, page 93. ISBN 0-520-02177-0
  12. ^ . doi:10.1002/cbdv.201000159.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Poetry-archive.com
  14. ^ Gutenberg.org
  15. ^ Sacred-texts.com
  16. ^ Tagore, Rabindranath (1913, new edition 2007) Crescent Moon — Child Poems, Standard Publications Inc, ISBN 1-59462-738-X
  17. ^ Lessing, Doris (1957) The Habit of Loving, Crowell. ISBN 0-261-61606-4
  18. ^ Pinkwater, Daniel (1977) The Big Orange Splot, Scholastic Inc. ISBN 0-590-44510-3
  19. ^ Couto, Mia (1996) A Varanda do Frangipani: Romance (Uma Terra Sem Amos), Caminho. ISBN 972-21-1050-0
  20. ^ a b c d e f g http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-161613 The Plant List (RBG, Kew, MBG) access date: 2015-02-26
  21. ^ a b c d http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-161615 The Plant List (RBG, Kew, MBG) access date: 2015-02-26
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