It might surprise you to know that although plumeria flowers or frangipani remind us of Hawaii, these gorgeous flowers were introduced to Hawaii, and they are not part of the natural flora.
While they aren’t native, they do thrive in tropical soil and are very suited to the conditions there, where they’ve also come to mean a lot to the people of Hawaii.
They also carry a lot of significance around the world.
What does ‘Plumeria’ Mean?
The genus name ‘Plumeria’ is named after Charles Plumier, who was a 17th century botanist, who documented a lot of flora and fauna found in the New World.
The flowers also go by the name frangipani, which translates to “breaking bread”. The family would supply the holy bread for church ceremonies. This name refers to the Italian noble family, and the marquess, who created a perfume with the plumeria fragrance.
A descendant of this family, Marquis Frangipani Marechal des Armees of Louis XIII, invented a method of perfuming gloves, and when they were scented like this, they were called “Frangipani gloves” in honor of him.
What do Plumeria Flowers Symbolize?
This petite and gorgeously fragranced bloom can represent a myriad of ideas, but most are tied to positivity in all aspects.
In Hawaiian culture, the plumeria flower is used in leis. These are used to welcome guests, as well as an invitation to stay.
They are also worn by Hawaiian women in their hair to signify their availability, but these gorgeous flowers do carry a lot of other symbolism.
These blooms usually signify renewal, a brand-new life, and the start of something new.
They also represent the joy in possibility, of things that haven’t come to pass but might still happen, of things you never expected could happen.
Plumerias also symbolize spring and the beauty that comes with this season. The flowers also hold the meaning of feminine charm and grace.
It’s also used as a wedding flower in southern India, where it represents the enduring bond of love in marriage.
You’ll find these gorgeous flowers in pink, red, yellow, and white, but unlike other flowers, the meaning is more or less universal regardless of the color of the flower.
What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Plumeria Flower?
As these gorgeous flowers are used for special occasions, they’ve come to mean positivity and the joy that life can bring.
To cultures across the world, the plumeria represents immortality. The plant itself is very resilient, and will still produce flowers even after its roots have been disturbed.
White plumerias are often used for funerals within the Bengali culture.
They also have connections with deities embedded into many cultures across the world, where they are tied into creation myths of people, the earth, and the gods themselves.
What does a Plumeria Tattoo Mean?
On the surface, plumeria tattoos immortalize the flower’s beauty, but this isn’t the only meaning these tattoos carry.
Plumeria tattoos symbolize devotion, the joy of life, positivity, renewal, love, dedication, and beauty.
As the flower signifies immortality, it can also immortalize someone who is no longer in your life, but someone who nevertheless helped shape you into the person you are.
It can also embody your beliefs about death not being the end of everything – how the soul carries on after the death of the body.
Plumerias can also symbolize Hawaii, so it’s a fitting choice if you have a connection to the island and its people.
When Should You Give Someone Plumeria Flowers?
While plumerias are widely renowned for their beauty and the symbolism behind these delicate-looking flowers, they aren’t often given as cut flowers.
If you do choose to give someone plumerias, it’s a lovely gift of your affection and how much you care for them.
They are suitable flowers for quite a few occasions, but be careful who they give them to. For example, in some cultures, white plumerias are used for funerals, and in some places, they are associated with ghosts, which may send the wrong message!
If in doubt, go with plumerias that aren’t white, as white is the prevalent color of death and remembrance.
The frangipani is a symbol of hope and possibility, which makes it a great gift for someone who has just emerged from a very difficult situation. It’s a reminder that all difficult things must pass eventually, to make way for the good things in life once more.
They are also perfect for wedding flowers, to symbolize the lifelong bond between two special people, though in some cultures, red frangipani blooms are not a suitable gift for this purpose.
If you want to know more about the enigmatic plumerias, their in-depth symbolism, and other Hawaiian flowers, have a look at Top 8 Flowers of Hawaii and Their Meaning