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Wednesday’s Flower: Frangipani (Plumeria)

Even the fallen flowers are beautiful.

Even the fallen flowers are beautiful.

On a recent visit to Darwin in the far north of Australia, I was struck by the variety of frangipani on display. The tree is widely planted here in Sydney, but mostly the flowers are a simple white with yellow centre. I’ve since learned that the closer to the equator, the more variety there is in colour.

frangipani - plumeria

The deep yellow with purple hints of these petals …

frangipani - plumeria

… contrast with the pinks, reds and oranges of these petals.

Among English speakers, the trees are commonly called both frangipani (for example, in Australia) and plumeria (for example, in the US). “Plumeria” is the genus to which they belong (in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier). “Frangipani” comes from an Italian nobleman, Marquis Frangipani, who created a perfume used to scent gloves in the 16th century; when the plant was discovered, the flowers’ scent reminded people of the gloves’ scent — apparently. Or it might come the French word frangipanier, a type of coagulated milk that Plumeria sap resembles. Take your pick! (source)

Whatever their etymology, the range of petal shapes, scents and colours make these flowers spectacular.

frangipani - plumeria

Simple white with a spot of yellow in the centre. You can see the clustered flowering pattern.

frangipani - plumeria

Another view of a cluster of flowers at the end of a stalk. The tree itself is a not especially attractive!

And this is the variety most commonly seen in Sydney: Plumeria rubra acutifolia.

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Wednesday’s Flower: Brunfelsia

Brunfelsia, Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow, Kiss Me Quick

This shrub has flowers that start out white, become mauve, and then purple.

I admit that I did not know this shrub’s real name is Brunfelsia, nor that it has the common name of Kiss Me Quick. The genus name Brunfelsia comes from a 16th century German monk, Otto Brunfels. Amazing what you find via Google! I only know it as the Yesterday Today and Tomorrow plant. This shrub has flowers that start out white, become mauve, and then purple, with a lovely light scent. They make dense, eye-catching hedges.

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Wednesday’s Flower: Clivia

Orange clivia glowing in late afternoon sun.

Orange clivia glowing in late afternoon sun.

Clivia are a form of lily, commonly known as Natal lily or bush lily. As you might guess from these names, they are native to southern Africa. Specimens were collected by the British explorers William Burchell and John Bowie in 1815 and 1820, respectively. Clivia nobilis became the first named species when in 1828 the Kew botanist John Lindley named it in honor of Charlotte Percy (née Clive), Duchess of Northumberland (1787–1866), who was for a time the governess of the future Queen Victoria. (source: Wikipedia)

Here in Sydney, they are popular in public parks and in front of buildings, generally seen massed in borders and clumps. They flower late winter to early spring.

Clivia also comes with yellow flowers, but they are less common (in Sydney, at least).

Lavender