Frangipani - you see these wonderful trees everywhere

Frangipani - you see these wonderful trees everywhere

In Cyprus you see a lot of Frangipani trees with their rather unusual branches, dark green long, narrow leaves and fragrant white and yellow flowers. Absolutely beautiful and we immediately knew, after having moved into our new Kamares bungalow many years ago, that we wanted to have one in our garden. English speakers often call the tree Plumeria and it grows in many parts of the world. Indigenous to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and as far south as Brazil.

The Cypriots call it “Frangipani;” a much better name we think, compared to the academic “Plumeria”, used mostly in horticultural circles. The common name Frangipani comes from a sixteenth-century marquis of a noble family in Italy who claimed to invent a plumeria-scented perfume, but in reality made a synthetic perfume that was said at the time to resemble the odor of the recently discovered flowers.

Frangipani, or Plumeria, is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. Most species are deciduous (shedding its leaves annually) shrubs or small trees. The flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers yield no nectar, however, and simply trick their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

Frangipani species may be propagated easily by cutting leafless stem tips in spring. Cuttings should be allowed to dry at the base before planting in well-drained soil. Cuttings are particularly susceptible to rot in moist soil.

There are more than 300 named varieties of Plumeria.

The 100 year old Frangipani tree