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!
Summer’s Last Will and Testament (1600)
Vernal Equinox and the cycle of spring, rebirth, renewal in the soil, tree and air.
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.
On the tips of gnarled branches clusters of plumeria flowers appear long before the leaves begin to grow.
In 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
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.