Fabulous Fragrant Frangipanis

With much literation, this weekend the Frangipani Society of Australia and the Botanic Gardens Trust host the Fabulous Fragrant Frangipani Fair at the Tropical Centre in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

From 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday (23 January) and Sunday (24 January) you can enjoy the perfumes and perfection of frangipani flowers for just the standard entry fee to the Tropical Centre.

There will be talks by frangipani experts at 11 am and 2 pm on both days, and society members will on hand at all times to solve your Plumeria (frangipani) puzzles. I’ll answer one question here! The common name, frangipanni, comes from the similarity between the flower’s perfume and a famous perfume invented by Muzio Frangipane in 1500.

Come along on the weekend and you can also buy seeds and cuttings of one of the 400 or so frangipani cultivars. Frangipani flowers are some of the most exotic in our Sydney gardens – conjuring up images and perfumes of tropical islands – and they are becoming increasingly popular due to their drought tolerance.

The eight species of frangipani grow naturally in dry forests of tropical America but have now spread across much of the tropics and subtropics. At least some were brought to the Pacific from Mexico by the Spaniards.

Frangipanis are synonymous these days with Hawaii, where they are often used to make leis (the welcoming necklace of flowers). I gather many of the 400 garden cultivars were bred there or in Asia.

Most common cultivars are from two species: Plumeria obtusa, which has leaves with blunt or rounded tips and usually the standard white flower with yellow middle, and Plumeria rubra, which has pointy, shiny leaves and flowers ranging from standard white to yellow and red.

Frangipanis won’t grow when temperatures below -4 degrees C for more than a few hours, but in frost-prone areas they can grow in protected areas. Some people have said that more are grown in Melbourne these days, and this is a reflection of climate change.

Taking cuttings is easy - in September just cut a piece and leave it on concrete in the sun for a few days until the milky sap dries. Then plunge into soil. Ross McKinnan, Director of the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane, suggests giant cuttings up to 6 m long (with c. 100 cm pushed into the soil) can be made this way, and that they will produce leaves and flowers by Christmas.

Although the sap of most members of frangipani family (Apocynaceae) – e.g. Oleander (Nerium oleander) – is poisonous, frangipani sap seems to be relatively safe. In fact a chemical, fluvoplumierin, has been isolated from frangipani which inhibits some bacterial growth.

If you miss the Fabulous Fragrant Frangipani Fair, we have frangipani plantings in the tear-drop shaped beds around the Choragic monument near Farm Cove as well as some nice specimens tucked away on the Macquarie Street side of Government House. And if you have considerably more time on your hands, visit the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens in Brisbane to see Ross McKinnan’s collection of more than 100 different kinds of frangipani.

Image: I've used this image before but I like it too much to not repeat...it's my own, very young, Plumeria rubra cultivar


Perfume said…
Interesting. Finding a perfume that is affordable is not hard when you use online perfume stores. But can you guarantee that the perfume sold at online store is trust worthy.
How would you know if the fragrances has a great scent and if it is really fit on you? I was looking for the great perfume that can make a longest smell. Anyway,will certainly visit your site more often now.

Tim Entwisle said…
Hi Isey,
Not sure if I can answer that question. I found it extremely difficult to describe the frangipanni perfume so I may not be the best person to ask! Good luck with finding the perfect personal perfume.