Etymological Meaning of the Plumeria Flower
The common name plumeria comes from the name of French botanist Charles Plumier who described this tropical beauty in the 17th Century, but its scientific name, frangipani, has a more colorful history. Some claim the frangipani flowers earned their name from an Italian nobleman who made scented gloves in the 16th Century. Because the fragrance of the plumeria bloom was similar to the scent used in the gloves, they soon became known frangipani flowers. However, others claim the name was derived from the French word, frangipanier, meaning coagulated milk because of the appearance of plumeria milk.
Symbolism of the Plumeria Flower
The plumeria flower symbolizes different things in different cultures, although all are uplifting meanings.
In the Hawaiian culture, the plumeria symbolizes positivity and is used in leis or to celebrate special occasions. When worn in the hair, the plumeria flower symbolizes the relationship status of the wearer. A flower over the right ear means she is available while one over the left means she is taken.
Plumeria represents dedication and devotion in the Hindu culture.
In the Buddhist religion, the plumeria symbolizes immortality, probably because the tree will produce new blooms even after it is uprooted. In Laos, the plumeria tree is considered sacred – so sacred that they are planted outside every Buddhist temple. These trees live for hundreds of years.
In the Mayan culture, the plumeria bloom represents life and birth.
According to Mexican legend, the plumeria flower gave birth to the gods.