As I walk along Railway Parade I pass under two or three frangipani (Plumeria). Native to Central and South America – at least the northern countries thereof – frangipani has a strong and beautiful scent. For me, it’s one of the key signs of summer in Sydney.
The genus “Plumeria” is named in honour of the seventeenth-century French botanist, Charles Plumier, who travelled to the New World documenting many plant and animal species. The common name “Frangipani” comes from an Italian noble family, a sixteenth-century marquess who invented a plumeria-scented perfume.
Frangipani is related to the oleander family. We mainly see white ones (pictured) but there are also pink and pink and yellow plants to be found.
If you want to propagate it, you simply cut off a piece 300 millimetres long and leave it on the ground in the sun for two or three weeks, preferably in winter. This allows the sap to dry out before planting in potting mix. It will take root within weeks.
Sometimes I collect a few fallen flowers, carry them carefully home because they bruise easily and place them on our bathroom windowsill. Althouth they only last a few days, the fragrance is wonderful.