The Aztec word for this plant is Cocaloxochite. In Tahiti, it is known as Tipanier, while in Laos it is called Dok jampa or Dok champa. In Italy, it is referred to as Pomelia or Frangipane, and in St. Barths Bois as Couleuvre or Snake Tree. In Malaysia, it is known as Kemboja kuning, and in Sri Lanka as Pansal Mal. In Bali, Indonesia, it is referred to as Jepun, while in Yucatan, Puebla, and El Salvador, it is called Flor de Mayo. In Guatemala, it is referred to as Flor de la Cruz, and in Hawaii, it is known as Pumeli or Melia. In Venezuela, it is called Amapola, while in China it is known as Kang Nai Xin. In India, it is referred to as Phool, and in Vietnam, it is known as Hoa Su (Southern), Hoa Dai (Northern), and Hoa Su Ma (Ghost Plumeria). In the Philippines, it is called Kalachuchi, while in the Canary Islands it is referred to as Flor de Cebo. In Nicaragua, it is known as Sacuanjoche, a name derived from the word “xacuan” from a native language called Nahuatl, which means “precious yellow feather or flower.”
Common names for this plant include Temple Tree or Pagoda Tree in India and the Far East, Graveyard Tree in the Caribbean Islands, Temple Flower in Sri Lanka, and May Flower (named for its time of flowering) in Nicaragua.
This plant has many names and a unique and charismatic way of blooming.
Frangipanis (Plumerias) are generally believed to be native to South and Central America, although some reports suggest they originated in the Caribbean and were brought to the Americas by Spanish priests.
According to Steven Prowse of Sacred Garden Plumeria, frangipanis were introduced to Australia from South America by Polynesian peoples who interbred with the Melanesian peoples and established villages in the Melanesian region, which is now part of New Guinea. From there, frangipanis were brought to Australia via two different routes.
The first route was via the Torres Strait Islands, which are located between Australia and New Guinea and can be reached in less than a day by paddling a dugout canoe from either. The Torres Strait Islanders engaged in trade and interbred with both New Guinea and Australian Aboriginal peoples, and brought the frangipani to both the Torres Strait and Australia. The islanders consider the frangipani a sacred plant.
The second and most significant wave of frangipani introduction into Australia occurred from the late 1800s to the 1920s through Polynesian missionaries and, later, slaves.
The Polynesian-based church missions brought Polynesian and Melanesian Christians, coconuts, and frangipanis to establish themselves in remote northern tropical regions of Australia. However, the harsh conditions of disease, snakes, crocodiles, and cyclones led to the failure of most missions, which were eventually abandoned, leaving only the drought-resistant frangipanis to survive in the tropical jungle. These missionaries directly brought the majority of the attractive frangipani varieties found in Australia from Polynesia and Melanesia.
Later, European settlers established a gold mining industry and pioneering sugar cane industry in some parts of the region, necessitating the manual clearing of land. However, the dangerous, hot, and difficult nature of the work led to the enslavement of captured Polynesians as forced laborers to establish sugar cane plantations. As laws changed over time, the Polynesian slaves were set free.
Many freed Polynesians chose to stay in Australia, while others returned to their homelands, bringing back family members and many varieties of their sacred frangipanis.
Today, frangipanis can be found in most parts of Australia as they are tolerant of a wide range of conditions and are one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings.
I find inspiration for my spiritual path from the plant and flowers. They exhibit resilience and strength to thrive in any condition, boast a beautiful and highly fragrant aroma, and are easily propagated through cuttings or seeds. The longevity and numerous properties of these plants make them my favorite for rituals, planting around temples, and growing in special gardens or health centers all around the world.
Flowers represent spiritual power and its manifestation in the heart, blood, and eyes.
We have been cultivating these plants in our small biodiversity garden near Trichy, Tamil Nadu for over thirty years. They are extraordinary plants for farmers, but when we needed to transfer over 4000 plants to another location, we had a shortage of time and had to remove them all at once. The first job was to remove them from the soil, but it took us a long time to replant them in the new place. 1200 plants were only planted one year later, but they resisted all this time without water and with their roots out of the soil. They are easy to transport and plant, require little maintenance and soil, and only need a drained place. The variety of colors and fragrances of the flowers are sublime.
The first plants in our collection, Plumeria Obtuse White, Plumeria Rubra Bordeaux, Lemon Yellow, and Baby Pink, came from Sri Lanka. Some years later, the collection grew to over a thousand varieties, some of which came from the private collection of the Royal Gardens in Thailand, and others from exchanges with collectors from different countries. Some of the plants in this collection are classified by P numbers, of which we have about 456 different pairs to preserve the collection in both Auroville and our gardens.
Now, our collection attracts bees, insects, and birds and adds beauty and fragrance to our dry and vegetation-poor area during the summer.
Cutting of all varieties will soon be available here!
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