INDIA: On the Frangipani – Plumeria

Discover legends and folklore of the Frangipani – Plumeria in India, and its use in traditional Indian culture.


Family: Apocynaceae
Hindi: Champa
English: Temple tree, Pagoda tree, Frangipani, Plumeria.

According to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims, the tree is an emblem of immortality, because of its extraordinary capacity of continuing to produce flowers and leaves even after it has been uprooted.

For this reason the tree is frequently planted near temples by the Hindus and the Buddhists, where the flowers are also offered at the temples by the Hindus and Buddhists.

The Muslims plant it near graveyards, where daily, the fresh blossoms fall upon the tombs and scent the air, the flowers smell sweet and strong.

In search of getting rich

A fortune teller once told the Frenchman Plumeria, to look for a tree whose flowers were the color of a frail new moon; whose fragrance overwhelmed the soul at night and which grew near the graveyards and temples. Plumeria traveled far and wide in search of such a tree and finally reached India, where on making inquiries about such a tree, he was advised to go to a certain temple in South India at mid-night on a full moon night and when the scent of the flowers would take over the garden, he shall shake the tree and it would shed gold coins in plenty.

Plumeria did as he was advised. He shook the branches of the tree and soon the flowers fell in a heap, glistening like gold coins in the moonlight and the sweet scent of the flowers wafted his thoughts to heaven. He then realized the wisdom of real wealth in life: the beauty of sweet smelling flowers; the moonlit nights; the immortal skies. So he gave up the idea of amassing earthly riches.

Here the official story of Frangipani – Plumeria:

The name, Plumeria, is attributed to Charles Plumier, a 17th Century French botanist who travelled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species, although according to author Peter Loewer (The Evening Garden: Flowers and Fragrance from Dusk Till Dawn. 2002) Plumier was not the first to describe Plumeria. That honor goes to Francisco de Mendoza, a Spanish priest who did so in 1522.

The other name, Frangipani, comes from the Italian nobleman, Marquis Frangipani, who created a perfume used to scent gloves in the 16th century. When the frangipani flower was discovered its natural perfume reminded people of the scented gloves, and so the flower was called frangipani.

Another version has it that the name, frangipani, comes from the French frangipanier which is a type of coagulated milk that the Plumeria milk resembles.

In the dialect of Kannada, spoken in the Old Mysore region of Karnataka of southern India, the flower is called Devaga Nagale~ God’s flower.

The local people use a cream colored Plumeria in weddings, when the groom and bride exchange Plumeria garlands at the wedding.

Frangipani pattern, Mughal and Rajput style, on harem window. Amer Fort, Rajasthan. India.

The flowering Champa tree is a favorite motif in temple and non religious sculpture, floral ornaments are often Champa flowers. Frangipani is used on jewelry too.

In Hindu culture, the flower means also loyalty. Women put a flower in their hair on their wedding days to show loyalty to their husbands.


Frangipani – Plumeria Use


*essential oil– cures infections, digestive diseases and is used as anti-inflammatory

*Warming oils – such as those from frangipani are said to have a calming influence on those suffering from fear, anxiety, insomnia or tremors, according to the principles of Ayurveda.

*leaves– used as poultices (a healing wrap) for bruises and ulcers.

*latex (sap)– used as a liniment for rheumatism.

Note: This post does not contain medical advice.

Please ask a health practitioner before trying therapeutic products new to you.

 If you do wish to experiment, I suggest doing further research.

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Works Cited & Multimedia Sources