Frangipanis are relatively small trees growing only to about 5-6m in height, but what they lack in height they make up in width often becoming as wide as they are tall. They have a well-behaved root system which makes them great for the home garden and for growing in pots. Frangipanis are also great survivors coping with drought, heat, neglect and insect and pest attack. They are also deciduous allowing maximum winter sun while providing shade in summer.
With its gnarled branches, long leaves and distinctive flowers, the frangipani is easily one of the most common and identifiable trees. The bark is grey/green and scaly in appearance. The scaling is formed when leaves drop in winter leaving small semi-circular marks on the bark. The branches have a swollen appearance and the leaves, dark green on the top and a lighter shade of green underneath, cluster at the tips of branches. A cut made on any part of the tree will exude a milky, sticky sap that is poisonous to both humans and animals.
Frangipani flowers appear in clusters, also at the end of the branches, and are distinctively scented. The petals are waxy with the centre of the flower a different colour to the rest. For example the most common frangipani has white flowers with a yellow centre. There are many varieties ranging from deep crimson to orange , yellow and white (and every shade in between). Unlike some flowering trees which bloom for a few days or weeks, frangipanis go on flowering. Flowers appear from December to April in Australia, and even longer in warmer climates.
Plumeria (common name Frangipani) is a small genus of 7-8 species native to tropical and subtropical Americas. The genus consists of mainly deciduous shrubs and trees. From Mexico and Central America, Plumeria has spread to all tropical areas of the world, especially Hawaii, where it grows so abundantly that many people think that it is indigenous there.
Plumeria is related to the Oleander (Nerium oleander) and both possess poisonous, milky sap, rather similar to that of Euphorbia. Each of the separate species of Plumeria bears differently shaped leaves and their form and growth habits are also distinct.
Plumeria Obtusa is a mainly evergreen tree (decidous in dry seasons) with spreading branches and a rounded dome. Although its common name is "Singapore", it is originally from Colombia. Height to 8m and spread to 4m. Leaves are pointed and oval up to 18cm long. Tubular fragrant flowers occur in summer - autumn.
Plumeria Rubra (and variation Plumeria Acutifolia) also known as the Common Frangipani or Red Frangipani, is native to Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela. It is a decidous, spreading, sparsely branched tree or shrub with a height to 4m and spread to 4m and more. Produces fragrant flowers with 5 spreading petals, ranging from yellow to pink depending on form or cultivar, in summer to autumn. Leaves are lance shaped to oval, and 20cm to 30cm long.
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