Plumeria (common name: Frangipani) is a small genus of 7-8 species native to tropical and subtropical America. The genus consist of mainly deciduous shrubs and trees. P. rubra (Common Frangipani, Red Frangipani), native to Central America, Mexico and Venezuela, produces flowers ranging from yellow to pink depending on form or cultivar. The genus is also related to the Oleander, Nerium oleander, both are known to possess poisonous milky sap, rather similar to euphorbias. The name of the genus is actually derived from a seventeenth-century French botanist who traveled to the new world documenting many plant and animal species Charles Plumier (the original spelling of the genus was Plumiera). The common name may vary from place to place, for example, the name is Kembang Kamboja in Indonesia, and "Dead Man's fingers" in Australia. The Australian name perhaps taken from its finger-like, dry greyish bark.
As well as differences in flower colour the species also have differently shaped leaves and bark texture.
Plumerias are well known for being used in Hawaiian leis and they are easily propagated by taking a ripe cutting of leafless stem tips in spring and allowing them to dry at the base before inserting them into soil. They are also propagated via tissue culture.
They are now common in South Asia and South-East Asia and in local folk beliefs provide shelter to ghosts and demons.
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