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Frangipani - July 5, 2008


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What follows are 35 days of development of a flower burst of Frangipani photographed from May 8, 2008 until June 11, 2008.

Frangipani belongs to the genus Plumeria,  a tropical or subtropical shrub or small tree.  It is a deciduous plant and sheds its leaves all at one time leaving a rather startling naked set of branches.  A lot of people in South Florida think the tree has died.  Soon, it leafs out and then flowers.    

The flowers vary from white, to yellow to red, depending on the species and varieties.  They are most aromatic at night and are highly fragrant.  Wikipedia reports they attract the sphinx moth for pollination.  It also reports it is a ruse - there’s no nectar - just the aroma and the sphinx accidentally pollinates it looking for the nectar. The flowers are often used to make leis in Hawaii.

Frangipani is a member of the dogbane family (Apocyanaceae), and as such, it has a milky sap like milkweed, oleander, and members of the euphorb family.  The sap is considered poisonous.

These plants are about the easiest to propogate of any.  Break off a branch and let the branch dry at the broken end and then simply stick it into the ground.  This specimen came from my next door neighbor from a branch.  

Wikipedia reports the original spelling of the genus was Plumier to honor a 17th century French botanist Charles Plumier who collected in the New World.  The common name Frangipani supposedly honors a 16th century Italian marquess who created a plumeria scented perfume.

The arrangement of the flowers on the stem is called an inflorescence.  This inflorescence is technically called a corymb.  Corymbs are flat-topped inflorescences where the point of origin on the pedicel is at different heights along the spike but where are the flowers are at the same level.  Therefore, several of the pedicels are longer than others.  Usually, in a corymb, the flowers on the periphery of the inflorescence are more mature than those towards the center.

© Fred Searcy 2017