Frangipani’s Hidden Messages: A Deep Dive into Plumeria Symbolism

Whether you know the flower as Frangipani or by the alternative name Plumeria, this flower is striking in both its beauty and rich scent. As a tropical bloom that has inspired plenty of perfume formulations, Frangipani is familiar to many who have never received it as a cut flower in a bouquet. This guide will cover everything you need to know about the Frangipani flower’s meaning and its uses, symbolism, and cultural significance worldwide.

Ultimate Guide to Frangipani (Plumeria) Meaning and Symbolism

Frangipani Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

In the language of flowers, Frangipani (Plumeria) carries the symbolic meaning of welcome, support, and wealth in many cultures. In its native range, the flowers were used to symbolize the fertility of deities.

Etymological Meaning

About Frangipani (Plumeria) Flowers

The Plumeria name was inspired by Charles Plumier. He was a monk from France who traveled to the New World in the 1600s and recorded the details of the plant’s botanical characteristics. He was the first to introduce the shrub to the European world, so he earned the recognition as the namesake of the entire genus. 

The common name Frangipani is far less straightforward. It’s currently attributed to an Italian family of the same name who claimed to have invented a perfume capturing the flower’s scent. Records from the time show that the marquis marketing the perfume claimed to have used the real flower, but in fact, it was a synthetic form that only mimicked the citrus-like scent.

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Frangipani

For a plant once found only in a limited part of Central America, frangipani has spread worldwide and established rich symbolism in far-flung cultures. From being a symbol of love in Swahili poetry to representing the meaning of welcome and aloha in Hawaiian, frangipani means something different everywhere you go.

Common Frangipani Flower Colors and What They Mean

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Frangipani
  • Red: Passion, intensity, courage, strength, and romance.
  • Pink: Friendships, budding romance, personal growth, and hope.
  • Cream: Elegance, maturity, good luck, and devotion.
  • White: Purity, innocence, clarity, cleanliness, and recovery.
  • Orange: Energy, friendship, support, growth, and good luck.
  • Yellow: Optimism, hope, joy, cheerfulness, and fun.

National Flower of Laos and Nicaragua

Both Laos and Nicaragua have selected the Frangipani bloom as their national flower, although neither country primarily uses that term to refer to it. 

In Laos, the same flower is usually known as Dok Champa. If you visit Nicaragua and admire the beautiful Sacuanjoche blossom, you’re still looking at a beautiful Plumeria blossom. 

No matter the name, the beauty and fragrance of the flower are the same.

Mayan Symbolism

As the native home of the Frangipani plant, it’s no wonder that the Mesoamericans used it symbolically in their religious art. 

Mayan and Aztec cultures left carvings behind depicting the Frangipani flower as a symbol of deities of all kinds. In particular, it’s linked to the birth of deities or the gaining of new powers. 

It was also clearly a sign of fertility and female beauty. Plumeria groves were grown specifically for Aztec nobles to stroll through and enjoy. One can only imagine how the strong fragrance of the flowers was likely associated with wealth, nobility, and strength.

Hinduism and the Frangipani

Hinduism and the Frangipani

While Frangipani once didn’t grow in Southeast Asia, it was introduced centuries ago and has been featured in religious art since then. Folk beliefs attribute a link between the flowers and ghosts or other supernatural entities. 

In India, Hindu temples often rely on incense blends featuring a strong note of Frangipani. These incensees are often designated by the name champa, such as nag champa, because it’s the common term for the flower in India. 

For Bengali people, the flower symbolizes death and grieving, while Balinese Hindus use it as an offering in temple services.

Hawaiian Leis

Hawaii is another area where the Frangipani flourished after being introduced. Polynesian Islanders call the flower melia and use it for creating the lei necklace that is given to visitors as a symbol of welcome. It’s considered to embody fertility and sexuality as well, much like in its original native range. 

Modern residents of Hawaii and other Polynesian islands often wear one of these blooms over an ear to indicate if they’re single.

Buddhist Symbolism

Buddhist temples throughout Southeast Asia feature dense plantings of the Frangipani tree or shrub. It can be associated with graveyards or used as an entrance area to encourage the right religious mindset before entering the temple. 

Some Buddhist cultures also use the Frangipani as a bridal flower, but only in cream or white colors. Red Frangipani is only ever used for grave offerings or during funerals due to the color’s association with death.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Frangipani Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Frangipani Flowers

Consider giving a bundle of fragrant Frangipani blooms during a challenging time in your friend’s life, such as losing a loved one or an unwanted career change. 

Colorful Frangipani sends a message of support easily tailored by selecting the right color. Red blooms can send a romantic message but remember that’s not common to all cultures.

Frangipani Flower Meaning FAQs:

What does a Frangipani flower symbolize? 

Frangipani symbolizes fertility, strength, growth, and romantic love. They can also be associated with ghosts in some cultures.

Are Frangipani lucky? 

In the language of flowers, frangipani blooms are considered a sign of good luck in most cultures worldwide.

What is the difference between frangipani and plumeria? 

Plumeria is simply the scientific name of all Frangipani varieties.

Is a frangipani a flower of love? 

In bright red or pink colors, Frangipani can symbolize love.

Do Frangipani come back every year? 

When planted in a warm climate, Frangipani plants are perennials.

How long do Frangipani flowers last? 

Cut Frangipani can look beautiful for two weeks or longer with fresh water.

Do Frangipani flower more than once? 

Frangipani tend to set all their buds and bloom at once each summer, but they can release a few flushes of blooms before fading.

Frangipani Flower Meaning – The Final Word

Don’t just admire Frangipani as a perfume ingredient. Give the creamy blooms a place of honor in your floral arrangements as well, thanks to their aesthetic beauty and rich meaning and symbolism.


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