Plumeria (common name Frangipani) 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.
The genus is named in honour of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier, who travelled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name "Frangipani" comes from an Italian noble family (itself literally meaning "bread-breaker(s)" in Italian), a sixteenth-century marquess who invented a plumeria-scented perfume.
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. 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 colour. 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 frangipani" 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.
The most common frangipani is Plumeria rubra. This species comes in many colours, from white to cream to yellow, even oranges, pinks (both pale and hot pink), reds and even deep cerise. They are also the ones with the most fragrant flowers. These trees are common in Melbourne and will grow well in sheltered spots.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.