Botanical Name : Plumeria rubra

Division: Magnoliophyta
Family: Apocynaceae
Specific Epithet: Plumeria rubra acutifolia
Common Name: Frangipani Tree or West Indian Jasmine or Temple Tree.  (Katchampa  in Bengali)

English: Frangipani, Temple power, Graveyard flower

Origin: Mexico
It has over 200 varieties and species.

Plumeria (common name Frangipani; syn. Himatanthus Willd. ex Roem. & Schult.) is a small genus of 7-8 species native to tropical and subtropical Americas. The genus consists of mainly deciduous shrubs and trees. P. rubra (Common Frangipani, Red Frangipani), native to Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela, produces flowers ranging from yellow to pink depending on form or cultivar. From Mexico and Central America, Plumeria has spread to all tropical areas of the world, especially Hawaii, where it grows so abundantly that many people think that it is indigenous there.

Plant Description:
Plumeria is related to the Oleander, Nerium oleander, and both possess poisonous, milky sap, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Each of the separate species of Plumeria bears differently shaped leaves and their form and growth habits are also distinct. The leaves of P. alba are quite narrow and corrugated, while leaves of P. pudica have an elongated oak shape and glossy, dark green color. P. pudica is one of the everblooming types with non-deciduous, evergreen leaves. Another species that retains leaves and flowers in winter is P. obtusa; though its common name is “Singapore”, it is originally from Colombia.

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Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.

Plumeria species are easily propagated by taking a cutting of leafless stem tips in spring and allowing them to dry at the base before inserting them into soil. They are also propagated via tissue culture both from cuttings of freshly elongated stems and via aseptically germinated seed.

Growers of plumerias/Champak

Etymology and common names
The genus, originally spelled Plumiera, 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 an Italian noble family, a sixteenth-century marquess of which invented a plumeria-scented perfume.

In Mexico, the Nahuatl (Aztec language) name for this plant is “cacalloxochitl” which means “crow flower.” It was used for many medicinal purposes such as salves and ointments.

Depending on location, many other common names exist: “Kembang Kamboja” in Indonesia, “Temple Tree” or “Champa” in India, “Kalachuchi” in the Philippines, “Araliya” or “Pansal Mal” in Sri Lanka, “Champa” in Laos, “Lantom” or “Lilarwadee” in Thai and “Dead man’s fingers” in Australia, for example. The Australian name is perhaps taken from its thin, leafless, finger-like branches. Many English speakers also simply use the generic name “plumeria”.

In culture:
They are now common naturalised plants in southern and southeastern Asia, and in local folk beliefs provide shelter to ghosts and demons. The scent of the Plumeria has been associated with a vampire in Malay folklore, the pontianak. They are associated with temples in both Hindu and Buddhist cultures, though Hindus do not use the flowers in their temple offerings.

In several Pacific islands, such as Tahiti, Hawaii and Tonga, Plumeria is used for making leis. In modern Polynesian culture, it can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status – over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken.

P. alba is the national flower of Nicaragua and Laos, where it is known under the local name “Sacuanjoche” (Nicaragua) and “Champa” (Laos).

In the book “A Varanda do Frangipani” by Mozambican author, Mia Couto, the shedding of the tree’s flowers serves to mark the passage of time, and whose conclusion sees the protagonists submerging into the tree’s roots as the ultimate solution to fix their shattered world.

In Bangladeshi culture most white flowers, and particularly plumeria , are associated with funerals and death.

Medicinal Uses:

Parts utilized for medicines:
· Bark, leaves and flowers.
· Collect from May to October.
· Sun-dry.

Flowers suppose to be source of perfume known as “Frangipiani.”
Bark contains a bitter glucoside, plumierid (2%).
Latex contains resins, caoutchouc and calcium salts of plumieric acid: cerotinic acid and lupeol.
Leaves contain a volatile oil.

Characteristics and Pharmacological Effects
Sweet tasting and neither warming nor cooling in effect, aromatic.
Antipyretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, purgative, rubefacient.

•Decoction of bark is used as purgative, emmenagogue, and febrifuge.
•Preventive for heat stroke: the material may be taken as a cooling tea.
•For dysentery, diarrhea during summer season: use 12 to 24 gms of dried material in decoction.
•Arthritis, rheumatism, pruritic skin lesions: Mix the latex (sap) with coconut oil, warm, and apply to affected area.
•Decoction of the bark is used as a counterirritant on the gums for toothache.
•The latex mixed with coconut oil is used for itching.
•The juice is rubefacient in rheumatic pains, and with camphor, is also used for itching.
•A poultice of heated leaves is beneficial for swellings.
•Decoction of leaves for cracks and eruptions of the soles of the feet.
•Infusion or extract from leaves is used for asthma.

Ethnobotanical/Economic Uses:Common ornamentals and some members of the family have medicinal uses.The Plumeria Flower Is Used Abundantly In Lei Making.

Chemical Composition of the Essential Oils of Four Plumeria Species Grown on Peninsular Malaysia

Research Article on Plumeria Linn. from Malaysia

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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