Plumeria obtusa: Frangipani

Family: Apocynaceae
Common name: Frangipani, Temple tree, Singapore graveyard flower, Plumeria rubra

Frangipani or Plumeria can be grown as a short tree, a shrub or a bonsai plant. It is an ornamental plant widely cultivated for its fragrant flowers and beautiful shape. Plumeria grows like an umbrella, the stems spreading symmetrically in all directions. They are deciduous shedding leaves during autumn, making the tree look bare and dried-up.

The flowers can vary in color from white, yellow, light pink and dark pink. They are fragrant, especially during the night to attract insects that would pollinate the plant, though it has no nectar.

Plumeria has been mentioned in ancient literature and has been associated with temples, deities, ghosts, and demons. The plant has over 20 species and many synonyms, making it difficult to distinguish between many of them. The leaves and stem contain a sap that’s toxic to animals and humans. The species is closely related to Plumeria pudica, an evergreen plant with very similar white flowers.

Propagation is from stem cuttings.

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