Plumeria is fast becoming Thais favourite tropical plant in recent years.??You will come across it in the gardens and spa. Even, artificial blossoms, photos, postcards, paintings??and stem cuttings????are available in JJ weekend market. Plumeria is also called Frangipani and named after Charles Plumier, 17C French botanist .
The plant belonging to the Apocynaceae family has white milky sap can be poisonous but found a way to use it medicinally.There are Plumeria obtusa (White frangipani, Singapore Plumeria), Plumeria rubra in the same family and countless hybrids in amazing colour and shade. Singapore Botanic Gardens has one of the best collection of Plumeria in the world. The genus contains 8 species of mainly deciduous shrubs and trees, originally from Central America, known for their strongly fragrant flowers.The incenses of flowers are used for creating the most sensual perfumes and aroma treatments with relaxing and soothing effects.It is a fast growing shrub once it has been given the right conditions. The plant will grow well on relatively dry well-drained soil, lots of light and warm temperatures. It can be propagated by stem cutting or grafting. Plumeria can be easily grown in a container and starts blooming usually on the first year after rooting and Plumeria are good hosts for dendrobium orchids.
Balinese people use the blossoms extensively in Balinese ceremonies and rituals, it is planted in the temples, sometimes is known as Temple Tree and also in Balinese landscape. In Singapore, I remembered as a child, the blossoms were made into condolence wreaths and the trees were usually planted in Muslim cemeteries?? endowed with supernatural power and home to a famous malay ghost the pontianak!!!!! is the soul of a lady died of child birth, reminded me of the Thai movie, Nang Nak.
Plumeria trees once were considered taboo in Thai homes too because of superstitious associations with the plant’s Thai name, lantom, which is similar to ratom, the Thai word for sorrow. Name of the heroine in a Thai legend, who had fate all through her life.Plumeria were thought to bring unhappiness but His Majesty the King has given a new auspicious name ” Leelaawadee” to revive the plant.
Today, however, the blossoms are used in Spa flora arrangement and presented as fragrant offerings to Buddha in garlands or on a plate, and residents wear them on special festival days like Songkran (Thai New Year). Time has changed. I still remember that hybrids of Euphorbia milli used to be the best-selling plants in the mid-ninties and my friend’s mum in her early sixties has a couples of pots of Plumeria as compared to a pot of Euphorbia in her garden. Well, plants??are a little like??fashion…making a fashion statement in the field of horticulture.