Growing Plumeria

PLUMERIA FROM AROUND THE WORLD!

are plumeria photo galleries organized and presented primarily by growers.

Examples: Moragne Collection, Thornton Collection, Florida Colors Collection,and small growers Norwood Collection, Ford Collection and Stafford Collection.

Technical information on propagation of Plumeria.

By far the most common method of reproducing is by rooting or grafting cuttings. The only way to produce a new cultivar is by growing a plumeria from seed.

How to that care of your Plumeria. How to apply and what fertilizers to use. How to make sure your plumeria is getting the right nutrients. How to protect your plumeria from diseases and Insects.

Plumeria Collections.

Reviewing and displaying Public and Private Collections from around the World.
(Click here for a list of  Known Plumeria Names)

Moragne Collection

Plumeria by Bill Moragne

Thornton Collection

Elizabeth Thornton

Florida Colors Collection

Florida Colors Nursery

Jim Little Collection

Jim Little Farms

Jungle Jack Collection

Jungle Jack Collection

Norwood Collection

Tex and Kay Norwood

Stafford Collection

Lake and Eulas Stafford

Ford Collection

Hetty and Bruce Ford

Dean Conklin Plumeria Grove

The Dean Conklin Plumeria Grove is named in honor of the late Mr. Dean Conklin, an employee of the City and County of Honolulu, Parks and Recreation Department. The collection is located in Koko Crater on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It is owned and managed by the City and County of Honolulu, Parks and Recreation Department.

By plumeria enthusiasts, known simply as Koko Crater, it is somewhat difficult to locate. Though once you’ve been there, you’ll never forget the path or the collection.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Drive past Diamond Head on Kalaniana’ole Highway
  • Continue past Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay
  • Slow down as you pass the surfer area called Sandy Beach
  • Take the first major left turn after Sandy Beach, Kealahou Street
  • Drive through a part of the Hawaii Kai residential area and Golf Course
  • Watch for an obscure left turn, to Koko Crater Stables and Botanic Gardens (the road and surroundings look aweful)
  • Follow the narrow road till it ends at the Plumeria Grove and stables.

There are hunderds of plumeria trees in the grove. They begin with the whites and miscelaneous, then the pinks, rainbows, yellows, and finally the reds. Many of these trees are large enough to climb, though we DO NOT recommend that you do, since you can get hurt or even worse damage a world class specimen plant. Many of the plumeria in this grove are rare if not unknown elsewhere.

Most of the trees are only taged with an acquisition number, with no indication of a cultivar or variety name to be found. The following list relates acquisition number to cultivar name as well as we can determine. Unnamed varieties are simply noted as to color. We make no guarantees. Many plants have the same number, we list only those with duplicate numbers and different flowers. Many plants are untaged, we don’t list these at all. When we list ‘cultivar’ type, it means, in our opinion, it may or may not be the named cultivar, but bears striking similarity. Documented by John Murry in 1996.

  • 870994 ‘Cyndi Moragne’ (one is ‘Cyndi’ another is ‘Jeannie’ Moragne)
  • 870994 ‘Jeannie Moragne’ (one is ‘Jeannie’ another is ‘Cyndi’ Moragne)
  • 930008 ‘Singapore’
  • 930180 ‘Irma Bryan’
  • 930181 ‘Hilo Beauty’
  • 930182 ‘Dean Conklin’
  • 930183 ‘Kaneohe Sunburst’
  • 930184 ‘Madame Poni’
  • 930185 ‘Cerise’ type
  • 930186 ‘Cerise’ type
  • 930187 ‘Cerise’ type
  • 930188 ‘Cerise’ type
  • 930189 Moragne rainbow (not ‘Katie Moragne’)
  • 930190 ‘J.L. Trumpet’
  • 930191 ‘Kauka Wilder’
  • 930192 ‘Lei Rainbow’
  • 930193 ‘Julie Moragne’ (incorrect label says ‘Puu Kahea’)
  • 930193 ‘Puu Kahea’ (look for ‘Julie Moragne’ white w/red stripe on back)
  • 930194 yellow
  • 930195 reflexed pink and white (Moragne?)
  • 930196 yellow
  • 930197 ‘Sally Moragne’
  • 930198 Moragne rainbow (not ‘Sally Moragne’)
  • 930199 rainbow
  • 930200 ‘Bill Moragne, Sr.’
  • 930201 Moragne rainbow
  • 930203 ‘Jean Moragne’
  • 930204 ‘Edi Moragne’? (four distinctly different plants have this same number)
  • 930205 ‘Intense Rainbow’
  • 930206 pink
  • 930207 ‘Katie Moragne’
  • 930208 ‘Cyndi Moragne’
  • 930209 indeterminate
  • 930211 ‘Tomlinson’
  • 930211 duplicate (not ‘Tomlinson’, possible ‘Mela Matson’)
  • 930212 ‘Plastic Pink’
  • 930213 pink
  • 930214 yellow
  • 930215 indeterminate
  • 930216 reflexed white
  • 930217 pink and white
  • 930218 white, pink bottom stripe
  • 930219 indeterminate
  • 930219 white and pink
  • 930220 pink Moragne
  • 930221 ‘Grove Farm’
  • 930223 ‘Ruffels’
  • 930224 yellow
  • 930225 yellow Moragne
  • 930226 ‘Scott Pratt’
  • 930227 ‘Cerise’ type
  • 930228 pink and white
  • 930229 ‘Gold’ (one is ‘Gold’ the other is ‘Hiedi’)
  • 930229 ‘Hiedi’ (one is ‘Hiedi’ the other is ‘Gold’)
  • 930230 ‘Paul Weissich’
  • 930230 yellow (‘Paul Weissich’?)
  • 930231 pink
  • 930232 ‘White Shell’
  • 930233 yellow
  • 930234 pink
  • 930236 ‘Celadine’ type
  • 930237 rainbow
  • 930240 pale yellow same as 940035?
  • 930241 white Moragne
  • 930242 white and yellow Moragne
  • 930243 pale pink
  • 930245 ‘Celadine’ type (another is pink and white)
  • 930245 pink and white (another is ‘Celadine’ type)
  • 930246 ‘Maui Beauty’
  • 930246 pink
  • 930247 ‘Celadine’ type (two different with same number)
  • 930247 large cream (two different with same number)
  • 930248 pink
  • 930249 ‘Daisy Wilcox’
  • 930250 giant pink
  • 940023 pink
  • 940027 indeterminate
  • 940028 indeterminate possible ‘Sally Moragne’
  • 940029 pinkish Moragne
  • 940030 giant white
  • 940030 rainbow
  • 940031 pink and white
  • 940032 Moragne rainbow (same as 940039)
  • 940034 pink and white
  • 940035 pale yellow same as 930240?
  • 940037 pink and white
  • 940039 Moragne rainbow (same as 940032)
  • 940200 white
  • 940238 ‘Jeannie Moragne’
  • 940240 pink and white

Elizabeth Thornton’s Plumeria Introductions

Firecracker

Lemon Drop

Mardi Gras

Mauve

Maverick

Texas Aggie

Texas Fiesta

Texas Star


 

The following table is a summary of the information presented in a color booklet cataloging the Plumeria Cultivars produced by Elizabeth Thornton.

Key:

  • Number = The line number of the cultivar described.
  • Name = The Cultivar Name given to the cultivar described.
  • Floret Size = The diameter in inches of individual florets on the cultivar described.
  • Inflorescence No. = Number of individual florets open on a given inflorescence after the initial flush of blooming.
  • Fragrance = The dominant fragrance imparted by the flower cluster.
The Exotic Plumeria (Frangipani)

A catalog of Plumeria cultivars grown from seed by the Thornton family – Elizabeth, Sharon and Bruce Thornton, and Bette and Jerry Gips, in Houston, Texas 1979-1994. Of 700 seedlings these new varieties have been named because they have proved to be superior. Cuttings of these cultivars have been widely shared with growers in Texas, California, Florida, Kansas, Hawaii, India, Mexico and Kenya.

NumberNameFloret size (in.)Inflorescence No.Fragrance 
1Symphony3 3/46 to 9Sweet 
2Mardi Gras35 to 7Peach 
3Texas Fiesta3 1/2 – 48 to 10Sweet 
4Yellow Rose of Texas36 to 8Nasturtium
5Lavender3 1/2 – 48 to 10Grape
6Snow White4 1/2 – 53 to 5Citrus
7Maverick44 to 7Sweet
8Pink Perfection44 to 7Sweet
9Celebration3 1/25 to 8Citrus
10Sunshine3+5 to 7Lemon
11Angela3 1/28 to 10Sweet
12Texas Star3+8 to 10Citrus
13Rose Red Too4 1/24 to 6Rose
14Courtade Gold4 1/24 to 6Sweet
15Texas Beauty3 1/25 to 7Citrus
16Peaches3 1/24 to 7Peach
17Lemon Drop3 1/28 to 10Lemon
184th of July5 1/24 to 6Spicy
19Mellow Yellow36 to 8Sweet
20Firecracker3 1/24 to 7Spicy
21Texas Sunset3+4 to 6Fruity
22Courtade Lemon3 3/45 to 7Citrus
23Gold Cup3 1/23 to 5Citrus
24Pink Parfait4+5 to 7Citrus
25Gold Dust3+6 to 8Citrus
26Thanksgiving48 to 10Citrus
27Mauve4 1/25 to 8Fruity
28Pina Colado3 1/2 – 48 to 10Coconut
29Jubilee3 3/44 to 6Rose
30Moon Glow45 to 7Citrus
31Lemon Parfait3 3/45 to 8Citrus
32Elegance5 1/23 to 5Sweet
33Memo’s Gold3 1/24 to 6Fruity
34Cherry Parfait3 1/2 – 44 to 7Fruity
35Painted Desert3 1/28 to 10Sweet
36Honeysuckle3 1/2 – 44 to 6Honeysuckle
37Raspberry Parfait3 1/24 to 6Fruity
38Peppermint3 3/43 to 5Mint
39Raspberry3 3/43 to 5Raspberry
40Texas Aggie36 to 8Fruity

Plumeria Cultivars and Varieties

What’s the difference between Cultivars and Varieties?

It is important to use the right terms the right way (at least most of the time). Variety and cultivar are two terms often abused by gardeners and horticulturists.

Both are part of the scientific name. Both appear after the specific epithet (second term in a scientific name). Both refer to some unique characteristic of a plant. However, this is where many of the similarities end.

Varieties often occur in nature and most varieties are true to type. That means the seedlings grown from a variety will also have the same unique characteristic of the parent plant. For example, there is a white flowering plumeria that was found in nature. Its scientific name is Plumeria var.alba. The varietal term “alba” means white. If you were to germinate seed from this variety, most, if not all would also be white flowering.

Cultivars are not necessarily true to type. In fact cultivar means “cultivated variety.”  Therefore, a cultivar was selected and cultivated by humans. Some cultivars originate as sports or mutations on plants. Other cultivars could be hybrids of two plants. To propagate true-to-type clones, many cultivars must be propagated vegetatively through cuttings, grafting, and even tissue culture. Propagation by seed usually produces something different than the parent plant.

Varieties and cultivars also have differently naming conventions. A variety is always written in lower case and italicized. It also often has the abbreviation “var.” for variety preceding it. The first letter of a cultivar is capitalized and the term is never italicized. Cultivars are also surrounded by single quotation marks (never double quotation marks) or preceded by the abbreviation “cv.”. 

Can a plant have both a variety and a cultivar? Sure. One good example is Sunburst Honeylocust. Its scientific name is Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Sunburst’. The term “inermis” means without thorns and “Sunburst” refers to the bright golden spring leaf color.

In today’s world of horticulture, cultivars are planted and used more than varieties. Yet we often still refer to a type of plant species as a variety instead of what is actually is a cultivar. Let’s kick off the New Year by being more accurate and start using the term cultivar.

Year of Publication: 2008
Issue: IC-499( 2) — February 6, 2008
By Cindy Haynes, Department of Horticulture

The book Heliconia an Identification Guide by Fred Berry and W. John Kress offers formal definitions of genus, species, cultivar and variety. 

Cultivar registration is the responsibility of the appropriate International Registration Authority, for plumeria this is The Plumeria Society of America, Inc. The Plumeria Place recognizes the registered cultivar name. Other names, if known, for the same cultivar will be listed aka (“also known as”). Unregistered cultivars and varieties will be listed in the manner deemed most appropriate.

Cultivar names must conform to certain naming conventions. They are traditionally enclosed in single quotes (apostrophes) e.g. ‘Blue’. They may not contain numbers or abbreviations unless those abbreviations are part of a recognized formal name. Certain words may not be used in cultivar names such as: hybrid, variety, cross, seedling, form, etc.

Named Cultivars and Varieties

This list has not been updated. The omission of a name should indicate the information is incomplete rather than non-existence of the cultivar or variety. The information presented is believed to be correct. In cases where we have some information, but lack bits and pieces here-and-there we indicate n/a meaning that this bit of information is not available at the present time.

Links will be added to the name linking to a picture and description of the variety.

(Note: This information is so incomplete). 

  • ‘Aztec Gold’
  • ‘Bill Moragne, Sr.’
  • ‘Carmen’
  • ‘Carter # 4’
  • ‘Celadine’, aka: ‘Common Yellow’, ‘Graveyard Yellow’, ‘Hawaiian Yellow’
  • ‘Cerise’
  • ‘Conch Shell’
  • ‘Courtade Pink’
  • ‘Cranberry Red’
  • ‘Cyndi Moragne’, aka: ‘Cindy Moragne’
  • ‘Daisy Wilcox’
  • ‘Dean Conklin’
  • ‘Donald Angus’, aka: ‘Donald Angus Red’
  • ‘Duke’
  • ‘Dwarf Singapore’
  • ‘Dwarf Singapore Pink’, aka: ‘Petite Pink’, ‘Pink Singapore’
  • ‘Edi Moragne’
  • ‘Elena’
  • ‘Espinda’
  • ‘Giant Plastic Pink’
  • ‘Gold’, aka: ‘Peterson’s Yellow’
  • ‘Grove Farm’
  • ‘Hausten White’, aka: ‘Willows White’
  • ‘Heidi’, aka: ‘Pure Gold’
  • ‘Hilo Beauty’
  • ‘Iolani’
  • ‘India ‘
  • ‘Intense Rainbow’
  • ‘Irma Bryan’
  • ‘J.L. Bridal White’, aka: ‘Compact White’
  • ‘J.L. Pink Pansy’
  • ‘J.L. Trumpet’
  • ‘Japanese Lantern’, aka: ‘Flower Basket’
  • ‘Jean Moragne’, aka: ‘Jean Moragne, Sr.’, ‘Moragne # 9’
  • ‘Jeannie Moragne’, aka: ‘Jean Moragne’, ‘Jean Moragne, Jr.’
  • ‘Julie Moragne’
  • ‘Kaneohe Sunburst’
  • ‘Katie Moragne’
  • ‘Kauka Wilder’
  • ‘Keiki’, aka: ‘Miniature Lavender’
  • ‘Kimi Moragne’
  • ‘Kimo’
  • ‘King Kalakaua’, aka: ‘Miniature White’
  • ‘Kona Hybrid # 26’
  • ‘Lei Rainbow’
  • ‘Loretta’
  • ‘Lurline’
  • ‘Madame Poni’, aka: ‘Corkscrew’, ‘Curly Holt’, ‘Star’, ‘Waianae Beauty’
  • ‘Mango Blush’
  • ‘Mary Moragne’
  • ‘Maui Beauty’, aka: ‘Manoa Beauty’
  • ‘Mela Matson’
  • ‘Mele Pa Bowman’, aka: ‘Evergreen Singapore Yellow’, ‘Yellow Singapore’
  • ‘Moir’
  • ‘Moragne # 27’
  • ‘Moragne # 93’
  • ‘Moragne # 106’
  • ‘Nebel’s Rainbow’
  • ‘Pauahi Alii’, aka: ‘Angus Gold’, ‘Donald Angus Gold’
  • ‘Paul Weissich’
  • ‘Penang Peach’
  • ‘Peachglow Shell’
  • ‘Peppermint’
  • ‘Pinwheel Rainbow’
  • ‘Plastic Pink’, aka: ‘Royal Hawaiian’
  • ‘Puu Kahea’, aka: ‘Fiesta’, ‘O’Sullivan’
  • ‘Reddish Moragne’
  • ‘Ruffles’
  • ‘Sally Moragne’
  • ‘Samoan Fluff’, aka: ‘Tahitian White’
  • ‘Schmidt Red’
  • ‘Scott Pratt’, aka: ‘Kahala’
  • ‘Sherman’, aka: ‘Polynesian White’
  • ‘Singapore’
  • ‘Slaughter Pink’
  • ‘Sunshine’
  • ‘Thornton Lemon’
  • ‘Thornton Lilac’
  • ‘Tillie Hughes’
  • ‘Tomlinson’, aka: ‘Tomlinson Pink’
  • ‘White Shell’
  • ‘Yellow Shell’

About Plumeria Colors

The Problem With Colors

There is perhaps nothing so ambiguous as a description of color. For example, when is the color red more correctly described as pink, cerise, carmine, rose, or any of a seemingly endless series of names applied to its shades, tints, mixtures, intensities, and hues? How can this information by conveyed?

A photograph goes a long way but is subject to variations in film, age, processing, digitization, and even the monitor where an image is viewed. Overcoming these shortfalls requires a more formal color description. One where a standard reference has been physically compared to a sample, and the comparison documented.

This is especially important for the plumeria red shades because they are the most difficult to reproduce and describe. Complicating matters, the red shades are sensitive to environmental factors and are frequently grainy, as if tiny dots of red pigment were applied to a white or yellow background. Plumeria floral whites and yellows are more straight forward and in many cases can be simply be referred to as white or yellow. The greens of plumeria leaves are by and large shades of green or purplish green. Since leaf color is not the primary purpose of The Plumeria Place, their description will not be as formal.

The Standard Reference

The standard reference used is The Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart . The society is recognized worldwide and presumably their color chart is available worldwide. See Obtaining the standard reference to acquire a copy of the color chart.

Using the Standard Reference

The color chart should always be used in daylight, not in direct sunlight, but a bright shady spot. Most plumeria reds will be found in Fan 2 in the Red-Purple Group.

Start by selecting the blossom to be examined. It should be fully opened, but not so old that significant fading has occured. Usually this will be one or two days after it begins to open. Certain varieties will have already have begun to fade; this can not be helped. Start by tearing a single petal from a plumeria blossom. Lay the petal on a clean sheet of paper top side up and petal tip pointing to the top of the sheet. Draw its outline with a pen or pencil. Flip the petal over someplace else on the same sheet and repeat this process. Examine the petal closely, determine its significant areas of banding, striping, and differing colors. Without getting too carried away, draw those areas within the petal outlines on the sheet of paper.

Many plumeria blossoms possess some of these characteristics:

  • Top side of petal from left to right
    • Slight to pronounced curl
    • Color intensification from the left to right side
    • Red pigment granularity decreasing from left to right
    • Stripe of color on the right side
    • Color shifting from yellow to white from base to tip
  • Bottom side of petal from left to right
    • Stripe of color on the left
    • Subsequent bands of lessening color intensity, becoming grainy
    • Tendency for color shifting to white toward to right petal tip
    • Tiny patch of yellow or orange at the extreme right base

Using a pair of scissors, cut the petal into pieces containing only one significant color. Don’t attempt to get every graduation of color, just two or three areas of different, representative, and uniform color. Perform this process for the top and bottom of the petal.

Dealing with a single piece of petal at a time, flip through the fan that probably contains the matching color. Use a “narrowing down” process of elimination by selecting several close matches, then finally choose the one that seems to be the best match. An exact match is a rare occurrence. Keep in mind that hue is more important than intensity. Annotate the drawing with the color chart code for that petal area. An example color chart code would be Red-Purple 61A.

After all areas are marked, the petal is described in narrative form incorporating the appropriate color codes. Color descriptions used in Cultivars, and varieties use this technique.

Obtaining the Standard Reference

The Plumeria Place has no affiliation with the Royal Horticultural Society. This information is believed to be correct, but can not be guaranteed. Given the aforementioned, the Colour Chart can be obtained by snail mail order. The cost is about $35.00 US and it is believed Visa and Master Card are accepted.

Send request and credit card information to:

RHS Enterprises
Wisley, Woking,
Surrey. GU23 6QB
England

Copyright © 1996 by John Murray. All rights reserved.
John Murray, Box 924091, Houston, TX 77292, USA

Plumeria Fragrance

Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service

Horticulture Digest #102

WHAT IS THE TRUE PLUMERIA FRAGRANCE?

In the proof-reading phases of the University of Hawaii’s Plumeria Cultivars in Hawaii bulletin 158, the editor disagreed with the authors on the nature of the fragrance of several of the plumeria cultivars. It brought to mind the differences that people come with in describing odors. Plumeria flower fragrances can be described as weak, mild or strong, with the strongly scented ones characterized in terms of other fragrances: citrus, coconut, rose, cinnamon, carnation, jasmine, gardenia, fruity, or even woody.

RESULTS

‘Common Yellow’

In ‘Common Yellow’ 73 different compounds were identified by comparing their mass spectra and GC (gas chromatography) retention times with those of reference chemicals, while 67 were identified in ‘Irma Bryan’. It is possible that differences such as thes e could be used sometime to help distinguish between other cultivars which are closer in appearance.

‘Common Yellow’ has as major components the compounds phenylacetaldehyde and linalol (16.1 and 14.1 percent, respectively). Also present are:

  • trans, trans farnesol (11.0%),
  • beta phenylethyl alcohol (8.8%),
  • geraniol (5.4%), and
  • alpha-terpineol (2.8%).

Two other compounds, neral and geranial, with lemon-like fragrances were present (comprising together 0.9%) which help account for the characteristic citrus scent of this flower.

 ‘Irma Bryan’

‘Irma Bryan’ had a very different makeup, although phenylacetaldehyde (12.1%) was still present. Beta-phenylethyl alcohol comprised 31.6% of the essential oil, about 3 times as much as in ‘Common Yellow.’ It has a mild, warm, rose-honey-like odor. The phe nylacetaldehyde has a powerful and penetrating, pungent-green, floral and sweet hyacinth-type odor.

Other volatiles that were present in the ‘Common Yellow’ flowers were either absent or present at much lower levels in ‘Irma Bryan,’ while methyl cinnamate (1.0%) and 2-methylbutan-1-o1 (10.5%) were found in the red ‘Irma Bryan’ flowers and not in the ‘Co mmon Yellow.’ Methyl cinnamate has a powerful fruity-spicy odor and seems to characterize ‘Irma Bryan’ while the 2-methylbutan-1-o1 does not seem to contribute to its scent.

Does it make the wonderful plumeria fragrance the less exquisite to know that 12 hydrocarbons, 21 alcohols, 13 esters, 8 aldehydes, and 20 miscellaneous compounds were detected?

So, when asked what creates the wonderful plumeria scent, you can reply authoritatively and quote the chemical names. On the other hand, you can paraphrase Joyce Kilmer and state that only God can make a plumeria.

EXPERIMENT

In the summer of 1991, Japanese researchers collected plumeria flowers in Hawaii to analyze them. The cultivars chosen were the ‘Common Yellow’ and ‘Irma Bryan’ forms of Plumeria rubra L.

Nearly a pound of flowers of each cultivar were subjected to steam distillation and extraction with organic solvents to derive a mere 70 milligrams (0.002 oz) of essential oil. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses were carried out to characte rize the various volatile components.

References:
Chinn, J. T. and R. A. Criley. 1983. Plumeria cultivars in Hawaii. HAES Research Bulletin 15 8. (Out of Print)

Omato, A., K. Yomogida, S. Nakamura, S. Hashimoto, T. Arai, and K. Furukawa. 1991. Volatile components of plumeria flowers. Part I . Plumeria rubra forma acutifolia (Poir.) Woodson cv. Common Yellow. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 6:277-279.

Omato, A., S. Nakamura, S. Hashimoto, and K. Furukawa. 1992. Volatile components of plumeria flowers. Part II. Plumeria rubra L. cv. Irma Bryan. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 7:33-35.

Richard A. Criley, criley@hawaii.edu
Department of Horticulture
University of Hawaii

The Moragne Plumerias

Mary Moragne

Jean Moragne

Bill Moragne

Kimi Moragne

Edi Moragne

Katie Moragne

Moragne 23

Jeannie Moragne


 Fifty years ago, a dedicated amateur made the first controlled crosses of these fragrant tropicals.

Richard A. Criley & Jim Little
Published April 01, 1991

Plumerias, which are native to the semideciduous forests of southern Mexico and south into Panama, were described as early as 1522 in the Badianus Manuscripts by Francisco de Mendoza, a Spanish priest who was one of the first explorers of the region. According to this collection of Aztec lore, the Indians used the plants for medicinal purposes that ranged from poultices to emetics. Soon the hardy shrub with beautiful fragrant flowers was a favorite of the Spanish, who planted it around their churches, monasteries, and cemeteries, and took it with them as they explored the world.

The plumeria has also acquired religious significance in India, where it is known as the temple tree or pagoda tree. There, Buddhists and Moslems regard the tree as a symbol of immortality because of its capacity to produces flowers from stems severed from the parent tree. Hindus use the flower as a votive offering to the gods.

The flower’s botanical name honors the seventeenth-century French botanist, Charles Plumier. Some horticultural historians say that the common name, frangipani, was derived from the French word, frangipanier, meaning coagulated milk, which its sticky white latex resembles. Others believe it honors a twelfth-century Italian who compounded a perfume similar to that of these tropical flowers that were discovered some four centuries later.

Because Plumeria flowers and leaves come in so many forms, taxonomists once held that there could be forty-five or more species. Of course, these variations are not enough to justify naming a separate species. The “lumpers” of the taxonomic trade-as well as Hortus Third-now say there are perhaps only seven or eight species, and that most of those in the popular books on tropical flowers are really only variations of Plumeria rubra. “Splitters” among taxonomists still dissect out some other species, as do floras of Mexico and other Central American countries.

The first plumeria was introduced into Hawaii in 1860. It was a yellow brought in by Wilhelm Hillebrand, a German physician and botanist who lived in Hawaii from 1851 to 1871. The first red is thought to have arrived from Mexico around the turn of the century, either via a Mrs. Paul Neumann, wife of a consul stationed in Honolulu, or a Mr. Gifford, landscaper for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The white ‘Singapore’ plumeria was brought to Hawaii in 1931 by Harold Lyon, director of a sugar cane research station, from a large collection established in 1913 at the Singapore Botanical Gardens.

Since then, natural hybridization has given rise to many variations in form and scent, making them popular among collectors, who in 1979 established their own admiration society for this plant, the Plumeria Society of America.

But as late as between plumerias. In that year, William M. Moragne Sr. became manager of Grove Farm Plantation on Kauai, which specialized in sugar cane, pineapple, and cattle. Moragne (pronounced “Mor-AY-nee”), who was born in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1905 and graduated from the University of Hawaii with a major in civil engineering and sugar technology, was an avid lover of plants and had always wanted to experiment with cross-pollinating plumerias. But because there were no books to tell him how to proceed, he had to learn on his own.

The plumeria’s pistil-the stigma, style, and ovary that are the female reproductive parts-is located at the bottom of a very deep trumpet, and efforts to tear away the petals to reach the pistil produced a torrent of sticky white latex. So Moragne snipped off the petals at the tube and allowed them to “bleed” to get rid of the latex. The pollen of the mother flower was carefully scraped away before introducing the pollen of the male parent. But after three years of effort, he failed to produce a single seed pod.

Then in 1953, reflecting on the fact that the flowers were deep throated, Moragne realized that they would have to be pollinated naturally by little bugs crawling down into the throat and climbing around the pistil. In doing so, they would leave some pollen grains under the pistil, as well as on top. Perhaps, he reasoned, he should also place pollen under the pistil. He carefully transferred pollen to the sides and base of the pistils of four blossoms through an incision cut into the side of the flower tubes. His pollinations were carried out in the morning on newly opened flowers. After the pollen was transferred, he covered the pollinated area with plastic tape to prevent uncontrolled pollen from being carried in by insects.

Several weeks later, he realized that seed pods were beginning to swell the base of the flowers he had cross-pollinated. From those seeds he obtained 283 seedlings. The thirty-five he kept produced small trees with large, brilliant, fragrant blossoms, some of which bloom for six to eight months. Moragne at first numbered the seedlings as they came into bloom-some took five years to bloom, others as long as eighteen-but then began to select the largest flowers among the more brightly colored ones to name for the women of his family.

Only three of his eleven named hybrids- ‘Jean Moragne Jr.’, named for a daughter-in-law, and ‘Edi Cooke’ and ‘Julie Cooke’, named for two of his granddaughters-have been registered with the Plumeria Society of America, which came into existence just four years before his death in 1983*. In the late 1980’s a renewed interest in plumeria led to great demand for cuttings of his hybrids at botanical garden plant sales. But as with many vegetatively propagated plants, cuttings had found there way into many gardens in Hawaii and abroad, sometimes with a name change along the way.

Now, more than forty years after he developed his series of hybrids, there is confusion about the parentage of these historic crosses. According to the Register of Plumeria Culture, the male parent is ‘Scott Pratt’ and the female parent is called ‘Daisy Wilcox’. But in a 1974 newspaper article, Moragne was quoted as saying his hybrids were a cross between ‘Grove Farm’ and an otherwise unknown ‘Koloa Red’. In trying to update the Register for the society in 1988, John P. Oliver asked for help in finding out which was right.

Although Moragne reportedly kept records relating to his breeding breakthrough, none can be located today. The answers had to be found by talking to his daughters, Mary Moragne Cooke, Sally Moragne Mist, and Katie Moragne Bartness, and a long-time plantsman on Kauai, Howard Yamamoto.

Among the plumerias in Moragne’s garden near Lihue, Kauai, was the cutting of a chance seedling originally collected from Lawaii Kai on the southern side of Kauai by plumeria enthusiast Alexander McBryde. The cutting was planted there when the plantation was still being managed by a couple named Ralph and Daisy Wilcox. Daisy Wilcox demurred at the suggestion that the flower be named for her, and Moragne-whether bowing to her wishes or simply because he preferred place names, called it ‘Grove Farm’. Nevertheless, the name ‘Daisy Wilcox’ stuck among plumeria growers on the island, and ‘Daisy Wilcox’ it became officially when plumerias began to be registered many years later. ‘Daisy Wilcox’, a large, white-flowered plumeria with a pink stripe on the underside of the petals, bears little resemblance to a plumeria now registered as ‘Grove Farm’, a grainy pink one also found on Kauai. The large flower and tree size of most of the named selections, coupled with a letter written by Moragne in 1973, leave no doubt that the ‘Grove Farm’ plant he used was the large-flowered one.

Records relating to the male parent are even more conflicting. The only place the name ‘Koloa Red’ appears is in a 1974 newspaper interview. It may have been a reporting or typographical error; no one knows. In a 1975 account, Mary Moragne Cooke related that ‘Grove Farm’ was crossed with ‘Kohala Red’; more recently, she discovered a slide dated 1955 that identifies the hybrid here father named after here as a cross of ‘Kohala’ on ‘Grove Farm’.  

There is little question that ‘Kohala Red’ is a synonym for a dark red plumeria eventually registered as ‘Scott Pratt”. Pratt was the farm manager of the Kohala Sugar Plantations on the island of Hawaii. Once again, Moragne preferred the place name.

Cuttings from the series provided by Moragne to University of Hawaii plumeria breeder Ted Chinn in 1967 carried the notation in the accession book: ‘Kohala’ on ‘Grove Farm’ or ‘Scott Pratt’ on ‘Daisy Wilcox’. Both are right, given the synonymous names for the red and the confusion over the large white. But due to the registration of plumeria names and descriptions with the Plumeria Society of America, ‘Scott Pratt’ must be listed as the male parent and ‘Daisy Wilcox’ as the female parent for the Moragne series. (This is an unrecorded marriage in the history of Hawaii’s long-time or kama’aina families, which may well support Moragne’s preference for place names.)

None of the surviving selections have the small flowers or dark red color of ‘Scott Pratt’. The strong yellows in some of them are not seen in either of the parents, but this isn’t surprising given that Moragne selected for large size and colorful petals.

More than twenty years after the crosses were made, recollections are also vague about how many flowers Moragne actually attempted to pollinate. It is well documented that he harvested seed from the pods of four flowers and from them produced 283 seedlings, naming his favorites for his wife, “Jean Sr.”; daughters Mary, Sally and Katie; daughter-in-law “Jean Jr.”; and granddaughters Cindy, Kimi, Julie, Edi, Cathy, and Kelly.

He planted fifteen around his home, and set out nine other hybrids and the rest of his breeding collection along the Nawiliwili highway that once led into Grove Farm, near the present-day Ulu Ko subdivision. The plants are not identified-Moragne removed the tags before planting them-but are still much admired, so much that many cuttings have been poached over the years.

When asked why he had not continued his pollination work, Moragne responded that with 400 potted orchids and a garden of heliconias and gingers, he didn’t have time or space for another 283 plumerias. He had selected the best and that was enough.

Today, a few of the best of the Moragne hybrids are used for leis or worn pinned in the hair or wired as nosegays. From their ‘Daisy Wilcox’ parentage, some-primarily the numbered ones-inherited a rangy growth habit, but others are more compact and suited to landscape use.

Moragne gave cuttings to Foster Garden, the University of Hawaii, And the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden. Shortly before his death, he gave cuttings to Jim Little, a photographer and university instructor and amateur botanist whom he also taught how to hand-pollinate plumerias. Little and a few others plumeria hobbyists have kept Moragne’s legacy alive.

His hybrids represent a rare ability to choose only the best from a seedling population. It has been a long time since those initial plants were chosen, and their distribution has been limited by the isolation of the source and the lack of awareness among individual nurserymen of the uniqueness of these plants. It is time that these brilliantly colored, fragrant trees receive the recognition they deserve through more widespread propagation and use in tropical and protected subtropical landscapes.


RESOURCES & SOURCES

Jim Little Nursery & Farms, Hawaii
Richard A. Criley, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Plumeria People, Houston, Texas
The Exotic Plumeria (Frangipani), by E. H. Thornton and S. H. Thornton, 1985
The Handbook on Plumeria Culture, by R. Eggenberger and M. H. Eggenberger, 1988


Dr. Richard A. Criley is professor of horticulture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Jim Little is a retired assistant professor since 2000.  He runs one of the largest plumeria nurseries, located in Hawaii .

*The Plumeria Society of America was formed in 1979.

The History of the Plumeria Society

The History of the Plumeria Society
by Darla Racz, organizing member
Published in the March, 1995 Plumeria Potpourri

  • It was 1979 and virtually impossible to find a plumeria in the Houston area. Many nurserymen were not yet familiar with the plumeria. In that same year, the Plumeria Society of America was organized by Elizabeth Thornton, Nadine Barr and Nancy Ames with the intent of furthering knowledge of plumeria. The propagation, culture, classification, identification of species and registration of plumeria cultivars were the goals of the new organization.
  • The first meeting of the Plumeria Society was held at the Houston Arboretum and Botanical Garden on March 13, 1979. Membership was limited to only 75 members and attendance at the three meetings a year was mandatory. A plumeria display and sale was held in June of that year at the Arboretum. All 120 plants and Hawaiian plumeria leis were sold in 20 minutes. Approximately 700 people attended the sale.
  • In 1980, many letters came in asking about plants and seed exchanges. The letters came from as far away as South India, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Membership was increased to 100 members. Garden tours were held at the homes of John and Pili Oliver, Elizabeth Thornton and Nancy Ames.
  • The 1980 Exxon Calendar displayed Dorothy Falkenberg’s plumeria photograph. In 1981, a luncheon meeting was held at Lydia Hilliard’s River Oaks home with Richard Eggenberger of South India as guest speaker. August of 1983 provided the society with a summer workshop at the home of Elizabeth Thornton. There were over 500 blooming plants in her yard.
  • By February 1983, the society had received official notification that it was named registration authority for Plumeria world-wide. The Pantone Color Picker was used as the criteria for identifying and classifying cultivars. Another successful plant display and sale was held in July and the Fifth anniversary social was held at the Oliver’s.
  • In June 1984, 22 members of the society toured the University of Hawaii’s experimental research station with Dr. Richard Criley, as well as the Foster Botanical Gardens. They stayed at the beautiful Sheraton Waikiki. Also in this year the first formal meeting of the registration committee occurred.
  • There was a dues increase and an additional meeting date was added in 1984. A donation of $500.00 was sent to the University of Hawaii and a donation of $100.00 was sent to the University of Houston’s Physiology of Flowering and Tropical Ornamentals Fund. Dr. Larry Barnes from Texas A&M spoke at the July meeting. A delightful “Caribbean Caper” was held in the home of Ken and Mary Duff.
  • In 1986, progress was made on the procedures for registration of cultivars. An honorary membership was awarded to Elizabeth Thornton, and Bill Adams from the county Extension Agency was guest speaker at one of our meetings. Also in the year, the Moragne seed project was started.
  • An award was made to Texas A&M University in 1987 for $2,100 for research on the “Effects of Environmental and Cultural Practices on Growth and Flowering in Plumerias”.
  • In 1988, another research grant for $1,250 was given to study the plumeria at the University of Hawaii. The research was done on growth retardants, chemical branch inducers and keeping qualities of picked flowers. Another successful plant sale and display was held, as well as a summer social at the Nassau Bay Hilton in Clear Lake.
  • In 1989, the society got its first official post office box. There was a plumeria society picnic at Mercer Arboretum, and the gardens of Sven and Kathy Bors-Koefoed, Ardell Broussard and Darla Racz were toured.
  • The society was back in Hawaii in 1990. In August the society enjoyed a Hawaiian luau at the Memorial Forest Club featuring genuine South Sea’s entertainment.
  • 1991 was one of the busiest years for the society. The first two-day conference, luau and garden tour was held in September. It was a great success. The first Plumeria Care Bulletin was printed in the May newsletter thanks to Milt Pierson, and the society again held a successful plant sale.
  • In 1992, the society returned to Hawaii. The registration procedures were revised in a more documented format. Plumeria society member John Murray gave a most interesting program on the “Cultivars of Mexican Plumeria”. The plant sale was held at the Memorial City Mall.
  • In 1993, the society awarded a research grant of $1,000 to the University of Hawaii to study the plumeria borer. The society conducted a successful plant sale and garden tour. The social was held at Landry’s in Kemah.
  • The Plumeria Society of America. Inc. has just completed its 16th successful year. The second Plumeria Conference and Seminar was held in August with a garden tour and a dinner. Dr. Richard A. Criley, keynote speaker, was awarded a lifetime membership in the society, and for the first time two plant sales were held grossing a total of $11,072.
  • The first winter social was held in January. The society gained many new members including international members from France and Switzerland.
  • The Plumeria Society has reached beyond any expectation of growth. It has helped people from all over learn more about the beautiful plumeria plant and its blossom. The society has had a total of 10 successful plant sales and is about to hold another. We have toured Hawaii as a group four times. The research committee continues to bring numerous insights and knowledge about the exotic plumeria. The registration committee has identified and registered many plants and is continuing to accept applications for new cultivars.
  • In the past 16 years much has been accomplished however, there is much more to be done. The future of the Plumeria Society is exciting – Let’s continue to make history.