Plumeria obtusa – Frangipani – Ajaytao
Botanical name: Plumeria obtusa
Family: Oxalis variabilis Jacq.
Genus: Oxalis variabilis Jacq.
Common name: Plumeria, West Indian Jasmine, Pagoda Tree (Far East), Seemai arali, Dead Man’s Fingers (Australia), Flower Of The Cross, Frangipani, Graveyard Tree (Caribbean Islands), Singapore Frangipani
Sanskrit: चाम्पेय Champeya, हेमपुष्प Hemapushpa, चंपक Champaka
Hindi: गुलैन्ची Golenchi, गुलाचिन Golachin, चम्पा Champa
Marathi: चाफा Chafa
Plumeria is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.It contains seven or eight species of mainly deciduous shrubs and small trees. They are native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Brazil but can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
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.
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. In modern Polynesian culture, it 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).
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.