Plumeria Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Uses

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Plumerias are easily recognized as the flowers decorated alongside hibiscus flowers in traditional Hawaiian making leis. Or perhaps even remember its powerful fragrance in some lines of cologne and perfume like the jasmine flowers! 

These blossoms beam with beautiful colors and a delicate fragrance that will make a great addition to your already lovely garden and home! It also has some folkloric and cultural uses. Although the meanings and symbolism behind these beauties are what will catch your attention the most. 

For example, a white or red plumeria means a new beginning or love. A pink or purple one on the other hand symbolizes fertility or modesty. And finally, a yellow or orange plumeria flower represents peace or good energy.

History of Plumeria Flowers

The plumerias are astounding flowering plants popularly cultivated as an ornamental with a colorful history. It was defined in the 17th century as a deciduous shrub or small tree with only 12 known species. The flowers were originally native to the New World American tropics such as Central America and Southern Asia.

The first plumeria which was a yellow variety was first introduced to the tropical climates of Hawaii all thanks to German botanist, Wilhelm Hillebrand. The tropical flower arises from the genus Plumeria of the Apocynaceae or dogbane family. The scientific name and Latin genus name plumeria was named after the late French botanist, Charles Plumier. 

Additionally, its other name frangipani takes after the French word frangipanier which means coagulated milk. The flowers also take their name after Marquis Frangipani who was an Italian nobleman in the 16th century famous for his scented gloves that always smelled like sweet flowers such as the plumeria.

Aside from its rich history, plumerias also have other famously known names it goes by in different cultures. One of these names includes the perfume name – the frangipani flower or plumeria tree. The flowers acquired this name because of their surprisingly wonderful fragrance and strong tree build.

Since there are only 12 plumeria varieties, there are three that are the most popular varieties not commonly found around the world. The most popular one is the Red frangipani (Plumeria rubra), followed by the Mexican frangipani (Plumeria rubra acutifolia), and the Singaporean graveyard flower (Plumeria obtusa). 

Plumeria is a native flower to sub tropical or tropical climate areas. It can bear flowers during the summer and thrived very well in volcanic soil such as in Hawaii.

Symbolism of Plumeria Blossoms

The great Mayans believed that these tropical flowers had a symbolic value of the living breath of all creatures and the life-giving breath from the gods. They deeply respected the power this flower holds according to their traditions and myths! It was believed that the breath was symbolic of the flower’s fragrance – breathe it in upon its bloom and fleeting away once it withers.

In the history of South India, the tropical flowers are known as the Temple tree. The symbolism of the plumeria for spiritual people in Indian shrines was devotion and peace. They believed these pleasant flowers were bringers of balance. 

Because the beautiful flowers and fragrant qualities represented a handful of symbolisms, some say that these blossoms ultimately represent spring. These popular scents are best enjoyed when blooming during early summer too.

Turning into a more mythological point of view, the flower symbolizes the Roman goddess of love and beauty – Venus and the Sun. 

Meaning of Plumeria Flowers

There are quite a few awe-inspiring and striking meanings behind the Plumerias. The many meanings behind the plumeria lies in its flower colors and etymological meaning and history. Hawaiians believe that the flowers meant the beginning of creation, new life and birth.

The plumeria stands for nikté according to the Mayans meaning the tree flower. They believed that these colorful flowers were a conduit put on Earth.

The flowers were said to have a symbolic meaning of being full of vivifying energy. It was that these flowers were like the living breath of a god or goddess! Iik or the life-giving air was the Mayan word for the breath that they say carries the mesmerizing scent of the flowers through the soft breeze.

Ultimately, the plumeria flower meaning stood for new beginnings. There is no green plumeria like many believe but listed below are some of the many colors of the flower along with its own unique meaning.

What does a White Plumeria Flower Mean?

A pure white color always stands for something pure. The color white can mean a lot of different meanings. 

Just like any white flower that’s as clean as a new sheet of paper or slate of canvas, a white frangipani conveys the meaning of a dawning new beginning.

What does a Red Plumeria Blossom Symbolize?

Red colors have always symbolized a deep passion. Red plumerias are symbolized by their luscious red petals. Its color red flowers symbolize true love and doubtless devotion like no other!

What does a Pink Plumeria Floret Represent?

What’s so special about pink plumerias is that it sometimes comes in a two tone yellow pink color. 

A pink frangipani has a similar association to the cultural tales of the Mayans being the breath of life. In fact, another representation of this flower is fertility and beauty.

What does a Purple Plumeria Bloom Indicate?

Desired knowledge and power are the hidden meaning behind purple plumerias. But don’t be too hasty because these flowers also indicate modesty.

What does a Yellow Plumeria Flower Symbolize?

Yellow plumeria flowers beam like the Sun on a hot day but with a real sweet scent. This blossom symbolizes the comfort and peace of the dawning new beginning ahead.

What does an Orange Plumeria Blossom Mean?

Warmth and welcome are the meaning behind the delicate orange petals of a Plumeria bloom. Its hazy color attracts not only admirers but also good energy.

pink plumeria

What is the Cultural Significance of Plumeria Flowers?

There are many reasons as to why plumerias are very significant in many cultures. It is a flower considered sacred and planted all around a Buddhist temple. The flowers are used to celebrate special occasions such as wedding ceremonies or other religious rituals. 

For example, Hawaiian culture has a very beautiful custom of honoring the many flowers of the world. The traditional floral Hawaiian leis are a popular tradition fondly placed around the necks of friends (and strangers!) to say Aloha! Aloha is a beautiful Hawaiian word both meaning a hearty welcome and a bid of goodbye. 

For the more traditional Hawaiians, the Frangipani is a symbol of everything that is good. Its many admirers say that this flower has a deep meaning about love amidst long absence, like a brave tribal warrior out at sea. 

Hindu culture also holds a special significance for plumerias in South Indian weddings. In Hindu culture plumeria represents loyalty. It is commonly worn on a young bride’s hair to symbolize her loyalty, dedication and devotion towards her new partner.

Most cultures, such as Vietnamese culture, honors its new blooms as a symbol of an educated and westernized upper class individual. Additionally, ancient Mayan art and Mayan culture regard the flowers for deity worship representing the energy of life and fertility. 

Lastly, in Chinese culture the plumeria is considered as a flower of love and is even rarer than the orchid.

What is the Spiritual Influence of Plumeria Blooms?

The eye catching plumeria has a very powerful spiritual energy. The flower essence brings about the feeling of comfort by imparting peace and releasing negative tensions. The flowers give off a vibe flowing like a water fountain full of energetic youthfulness and carefreeness! It opens the mind to boundless creativity for divine ideas and inspirational wonders. 

The blossoms upon bloom are reminders of freedom. It is a beacon of the healing of estranged relationships.

What are the Folktales Associated with Plumeria Blossoms?

Many ancient times have stories to tell about plumerias. In traditional Mayan folktales, the plumerias were known through the phrase bak nikté. According to belief, the plumeria flowers signify immortality, divine knowledge, life, power, and the origin of all creation.

The Mayan Lacandón myth describes how the god K’akoch created the Plumerias. This blossom according to the myth gave birth to the gods – the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth. After all the creation, the new breath of life of Hachakyun descended onto the Earth making it a place to thrive and survive. 

Another quirky belief about the plumeria is that it is the perfect flower to make your marital status or relationship status known. If you wear the flower behind your right ear, it indicates you are single and ready to mingle. Meanwhile, wearing this behind your left ear indicates you’re in a committed relationship with a loved one.

What does a Plumeria Floral Tattoo Symbolize?

Hawaiians are very well known for tattooing their bodies with their rich cultural history. This floral tattoo signifies the start of a new life and the burst of spring. Those who choose this truly believe in the power of rebirth and reincarnation. 

Uses of Plumeria Trees

The plumerias are a popular ornamental plant mostly cultivated for its delicate yet fragrant flowers. Plumeria scented perfume was once so popular that many didn’t know that you can only enjoy its rich scent during its bloom in the evening. Its fragrance has top notes of vanilla, amber, musk, and cedar making it the perfect gift or cut flowers during any special occasion for loved ones.

Apart from its value in the perfume industry, a latex from the flowers coagulated milk sap or plumeria milk is being studied. There have been warnings that using plumeria milk for treating inflammation topically can cause rashes or blisters. 

There are a few known traditional medical uses for the frangipani. The plant has known healing powers such as antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anticarcinogenic properties. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, the flowers are used as a remedy for most cases of mental struggles.

Indigenous folk from South America have also used the plumeria as a traditional medicine to treat worm infestations and high blood pressure. In Brazil, the flowers are a known laxative. Traditionally, Brazilian women also use the flower as an inducer for menstrual flow. A word of warning that it’s a must to always consult a medical professional before using this plant or any part of it for medical purposes.

~ image source: depositphotos/dexteris

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