Plumerias – Hawaii’s Aloha Flower
There’s a big, beautiful plumeria orchard on the leeward coast of Molokai about 2.5 miles west of Kaunakakai. This is Molokai Plumerias. The trees here enjoy abundant sunshine and shelter from heavy trade winds. You would call it “hot and dry” but plumerias love it.
Plumerias are named after a French botanist, Charles Plumier, who first cataloged the tropical New World flora in the 17th century. The variety of trees cultivated at Molokai Plumerias is more formally known as plumeria rubra acutifolia.
In Hawaii these plumerias are called by several different names- Common Yellow, Celadine, Hawaiian Yellow or even Graveyard Yellow. It is by far the most well-known variety. No wonder it has been the favorite of lei makers since it first came to Hawaii over 100 years ago. We call it Classic Yellow.
Our plumerias are also called frangipani by many people. The story goes that when the explorers first came to the New World and smelled our favorite flower they were immediately reminded of a popular perfume back in Europe called frangipani. This borrowed, common name has stuck over the years and is the only known instance of a flower being named after the fragrance instead of vice versa.
By the way. The plumerias only start out yellow. As they age they fade into white around the outside and eventually into the middle. But please don’t call our plumerias white. We pick only the flowers that have just opened.
It’s the reason we get occasional reports of Aunties on the mainland breaking into tears when they open our box.
It is how plumerias can literally turn a lawn party into a luau. Way better than orchids.
“Yeah, but how and why does the fragrance make such a difference? Why does it have such power?” I pondered this mystery for many years. Finally I had the good fortune to ask a PhD neurologist, “What’s going on?” He told me –
“There is good reason for [plumerias] making Aunties cry. The sense of smell bypasses the cortex (site of rational and logical thinking, etc.) and is directly connected to the limbic system of the brain (the ‘primitive brain’, the source of strong emotions). So a simple scent is ‘hardwired through the brain’ to trigger strong memories and emotions.”
As I understand it then, the fragrance of plumerias is making connections in our brains that are literally beyond our imagination. It’s the ultimate “hook” that says you’re in Hawaii, even when you’re not.
Plumerias are certainly symbols of Aloha. Why else would they be in logos of so many of the most unlikely businesses? Combining the symbolism and the fragrance with real flowers is magic on the mainland. It’s a simple and cost effective way to capitalize on the essence and ambiance of Hawaii and the Aloha Spirit.
If your business promotes the Hawaiian culture;
If your party is ready for an extra dose of real aloha;
If you want to take your friends to the tropics, if only in your dreams…
Then by all means, use plumeria leis.
May our flowers bring you great joy!
Thank you , the flowers were beautiful, it was ALMOST like being in Molokai.
Patti, West Chester, OH
The flowers were a huge success and everyone came in ooohing and aaawwing about the beautiful scent. Thank you for working so patiently with me. They want to make this an annual event.
Sue, Springfield, OH
Thank you for the wonderful plumerias. They arrived as expected and in awesome condition. You exceeded my expectations. Our party guests were very impressed with all the plumeria leis. I will definitely order from your company again.
Savali, San Antonio, TX
Mahalo for the shipment of the plumerias! Came out nice! They were a hit at the luau. People were stringing their own leis and everything. Can’t wait for next year!
Mahalo nui loa,
Gloria, River Falls, WI
The Leis were beautiful. When they arrived the whole office was filled with their fragrance. I did exactly as instructed soaking them in cold water when they arrived. Put them in an ice chest for the remainder of the day and overnight. The day of the event I once again soaked them and returned them to the ice chest. We didn’t use them until that evening and there were as fresh and beautiful as when they arrived. We received many compliments and have referred a few people to your website.
Thank you for everything, you’ve been a pleasure to work with.
Meeting & Events Director
North San Diego County Association of Realtors