A Sign of Spring is the Plumeria Tree

Also known as the Frangipani.

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing.
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)
Summer’s Last Will and Testament (1600)
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Mauna Kea above Saddle Road, Big Island, Hawaii

Vernal Equinox and the cycle of spring, rebirth, renewal in the soil, tree and air.

Cuckoo,    jug-jug,    pu-we,    to-witta-woo

Hawaii with its sub-tropical climate hosts vegetation green and lush throughout the year. The cycle of seasons is not absent though. Fields fill with flowers and buds unfurl beginning late February and by the month of March at the time of the Vernal Equinox it becomes clear that the cycle of spring and rebirth are underway. It is not found peeping from remnants of melting snow or sprouting amongst last autumns moldering leaves. Instead one looks up to blue framed silhouettes of branches blooming forth in amazing color. There are spectacular spring blooms in the trees of Hawaii. Every year I am in awe. There are purple blossomed Jacaranda Mimosifolia, orange and yellow Silver Oak and the multitude of colors on the Plumeria tree.

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On the tips of gnarled branches clusters of plumeria flowers appear long before the leaves begin to grow.

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botanical 004In Hawaii the plumeria grows from seashore to an elevation of about one thousand feet. The first plumeria was introduced into Hawaii in 1860. It was a yellow brought in by Wilhelm Hillebrand, a German physician and botanist who lived in Hawaii from 1851 to 1871.The plumeria is now found in home landscaping as well as along rural roadsides.

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The plant is native to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Mexico. Known for its alluring fragrance the plumeria has been introduced to countries around the world with a suitable climate.

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In the Pacific Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands the plumeria flowers are used for making garlands of lei. The flower strand necklaces are presented as greetings and as recognition to lovers, friends, family, members of the community and visitors alike.

botanical 027The flowers which appear in March only last a few days but replenish themselves as branch tips grow and continues until November when the tree drops all its leaves. The color palette ranges from white, yellow, salmon, orange, pink, red and combinations of all the above.

botanical 024The distinctive fragrance of plumeria is like no other flower. Among the different varieties the scent may exhibit hints of peach, citrus and cinnamon. The flower is most fragrant at night to lure the sphinx moth to pollinate. The flowers have no nectar and use the scent to dupe the pollinators.

Throughout the islands of the Pacific it is common for a woman to place a plumeria flower behind her ear. If it is behind the right ear she is seeking and if behind the left she is taken.

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click any image to enlarge.

The blooming of plumeria is a sign that spring is here. Wherever you may live – enjoy the Vernal Equinox where day and night are of equal length and rebirth is underway in soil, tree and air.

Peace, Dohn

Cuckoo,    jug-jug,    pu-we,    to-witta-woo
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About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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14 Responses to A Sign of Spring is the Plumeria Tree

  1. Hello Dohn,
    Wonderful images, and I love your blog. I shall sign up to follow now, particularly since you start with a quote from Thomas Nashe. I’d sadly never heard of him before last week, when my brother sent me a link to this article… (he was the English lecturer who set the question)… I love synchronicities…
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2638110/Heaven-knows-hes-literature-Morrissey-joins-likes-Shakespeare-Milton-featured-final-year-English-exam-Cambridge-University.html
    Best Wishes
    Julian

    • Mahalo for the lit. link Julian. An interesting assignment I might try myself, actually think I will. Hope you continue to enjoy earthstonestation as I share observations on the beauty of the earth. Aloha, Dohn

  2. wingedprisms says:

    Beautiful images. Thank you.
    cate b

  3. pendantry says:

    Typo alert:
    “…with it’sits sub-tropical…”

    PS I reckon Mr Nashe must’ve been drunk when he wrote that.

  4. FeyGirl says:

    Ah, I miss our plumerias to this day. We have them here (tho they call them Frangipani), but nothing like in the South Pacific. The trees grew so enormous, in every color — and the blooms’ scent would wash across the island.

  5. Abha Shahra Shyama says:

    Frangipani are beautiful fragrant flowers. We have a lot of blooming trees here in Bombay too, which spread their fragrance around on the streets too! Thank you for all the details

  6. df says:

    How truly delightful, and I love both names for this tree. We’re overdue for spring after the longest winter I can recall. I think I’ll visit this page again for inspiration!

  7. McEff says:

    Dohn, whenever you post an article you open a window into a strange and colourful world. With the Vernal Equinox occurring here as well in dull and damp northern England, it never ceases to amaze me that your world is one and the same as mine.
    All the best, Alen

  8. Who can say what is more exotic, The fragrant aroma of the plumeria flower or the beautiful pink blossom of cherry that rewards with a gift of delicious fruit. Happy spring to you also.

  9. Cathy says:

    A beautiful flower – thank you for sharing Dohn. We will soon see plum and cherry blossoms here, also beautiful if not exotic. Happy Spring!

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