Pondering plumeria is not difficult as the scent of the flowers wafts through the evening breeze carrying with it a sense of the tropics. Plumeria trees and their annual flowering are very common in many tropical climates. In Hawaii, the flowers are often used in leis for graduation, promotion, and other events of recognition. The photos here were taken on a calm cloudy morning outside Wailuku Town on the island of Maui. The following information are tidbits taken from Wikipedia….
Plumeria is a genus of flowering plants in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae
The genus is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier, who traveled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name “frangipani” comes from a sixteenth-century marquis of the noble family in Italy who claimed to invent a plumeria-scented perfume
Plumeria 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. Insects or human pollination can help create new varieties of plumeria. Plumeria trees from cross pollinated seeds may show characteristics of the mother tree or their flowers might just have a totally new look
In Mesoamerica, plumerias have carried complex symbolic significance for over two millennia, with striking examples from the Maya and Aztec periods into the present. Among the Maya, plumerias have been associated with deities representing life and fertility, and the flowers also became strongly connected with female sexuality. Nahuatl-speaking people during the height of the Aztec Empire used plumerias to signify elite status, and planted plumeria trees in the gardens of nobles. 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, the flower can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status—over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken.
Regardless of the meanings and values given to this delightful flower, as Shakespeare would say, by any other name it would still be as appealing to the senses.