The Latin name of the flower pictured below is Plumeria. The common name is frangipani. However, in some places, the Latin name is more common than the so-called common name. For example, if you’re in Hawaii, it will be called plumeria. But if you’re in Australia, it’s frangipani. These are not the only places this flower—or the difference in naming—occurs, but these are the two places I’ve encountered this intoxicating bloom. (I spent a bit of time being astonished that Australia’s frangipani was so much like Hawaii’s plumeria—then I looked it up and found out it was the same plant.)

Plumeria is almost unavoidable in Hawaii, as its intensely fragrant blossoms are popular for making leis. Australians don’t make leis, but they do have a considerable amount of plumeria (or frangipani) growing in the country’s tropical and subtropical regions.

Frangipani (gotta pick one name, and since this blog is about Australia, I’ll use the Aussie moniker) is related to Oleander. Because once the flowers die, the plant presents clumps of thick, bare, finger-length twigs to the viewer, an alternative name in Oz is “dead man’s fingers.” Not a really lovely name, but I’ve seen the trees bare, and the name is apt.

Flowers range from white to yellow to deep pink. The flowers are more fragrant at night, but there is no time they are not a delight. Crowds of frangipani trees bathed our first campsite in Kakadu in their heady perfume. What a joy.

Plumeria or frangipani

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Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, Nature, Travel

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