Frangipani

Frangipani is the common name of the Plumeria genus of flowering plants. These beautiful multi-colored, fragrant flowers, found in warm tropical areas carry symbolic significance in many cultures. They are well known for their religious and ornamental value, cosmetic importance and enormous pharmaceutical potential.

The genus Plumeria, belongs to the family Apocynaceae and has more than 300 named varieties. The common name “frangipani” comes from a sixteenth-century marquess in Italy who invented a Plumeria-scented perfume, which was popularized in the bestselling book “Perfume”. [1]
Trees and shrubs belonging to the genus Plumeria, are native to Central and South America, Pacific Islands, Caribbean and Mexico. Frangipanis arrived in Australia from South America via the Polynesian missionaries. The Torres Strait Islanders traded and interbred with both the New Guinea and Australian aboriginal people and brought the frangipani to Australia. [2]
Their flowers come in a variety of colors such as white, pink and red. But don’t let their sweet scent and sheer, delicate beauty fool you. Contact with their poisonous, milky sap, like that in Euphorbia can irritate your skin and eyes. They smell stronger in the night in order to attract insects for pollination even though they have no nectar.
Frangipanis are very adaptable and tolerant, easy-care plants that can grow in any climate and in any soil. However, for best results and maximum growth they require six hours of direct sunlight daily and should be potted up in fast draining soil. They bloom from early summer to fall, and their long, waxy leaves tend to fall in early winter. During winter is recommended to water them once per week and use fertilizers only in spring and summer. The best organic fertilizers for these plants are the ones that contain high levels of phosphorous and potassium. [3]
The best time for a full prune is before summer. Pruning will increase the amount of nutrients going to each branch and it’s the easiest way to get rid of infested branches. It can be used as a tool to shape young trees giving them more structure. [4]
From weddings and funerals, to social and political events, these flowers have been part of the cultural heritage for centuries. In countries such as Indonesia and Philippines, the white colored plumerias have rather scary and dark reputation. They are planted in cemeteries because it’s believed they provide shelter for demons and ghosts. On the bright side, in other parts of the world, plumerias are used in weddings as a symbol of femininity and loyalty. [5]
In India Plumeria plants has been used for centuries as treatment for itches and fevers and in Caribbean cultures the leaves are used as healing wraps for bruises and ulcers. The white Obtusa plumerias are used in traditional medicine to cure high blood pressure, haemophilia, cough, dysentery, fever and skin diseases . In the last few decades a vast research has been concluded on Plumeria plants in order to confirm their medicinal properties. Studies have shown that they contain compounds that exhibit local anesthetic, cytotoxic, cardiotonic, antitumor and antibacterial activities. [6]