What is the difference between frangipani and plumeria?

Frangipani ,Plumeria flower on the floor with sunset background at the sea beach

Plumeria or Frangipani, Plumeria AND Frangipani, what is the deal with these two words?

Do they mean the same thing or are we talking about two different kinds of flowers?

Some people use them interchangeably, some people use them separately, it’s so hard to find a direct answer to this question!

Same or different?

To answer the most pressing question first, Plumeria and Frangipani can be the same thing but not always.

Plumeria is the genus name for the Frangipani flower. If you failed environmental science class like me, don’t worry because I looked up the definition for both of us.

 A genus is essentially a big group marked by similar characteristics. For example, horses, donkeys, and zebras all belong to the same genus group called “Equus”. When you look at the three animals, they are different but the same.

This is the same thing. Plumeria is like Equus, while Frangipani is like a zebra. Though Frangipani will always identify as falling under the genus Plumeria, everything under the genus Plumeria is not Frangipani.

Are you still with me?

There are 7-8 total species within the Plumeria genus and Frangipani is just one of these, though arguably one of the most well-known. This is where the “Plumeria/Frangipani” debate comes from. A lot of people use these two terms interchangeably because for a long time, they have been confused as being the same thing.

Just remember that Frangipani does identify as Plumeria, but all Plumerias are NOT Frangipani.

What is the difference between frangipani and plumeria?
Plumeria flowers are blooming in the garden

So where did these names even come from to begin with?

Plumeria, Frangipani, when you put a little thought into it sometimes you wonder how people even came up with these plant names!

A lot of plants have very scientific names and origins, but these two are a little different. They were both named after actual individuals.

The word Plumeria comes from a 17th century botanist named Charles Plumier. He dedicated the majority of his life to researching plants and how to use them in everyday life and is considered to be one of the most important and influential botanical explorers of the time period. It’s no surprise that they named the genus Plumeria after him!

Now the Frangipani flower was named after an Italian patrician from the 12th century, Mr. Marquis de Frangipani. Leather gloves were all the rage back then, but the smell of new leather wasn’t something that anyone loved. He came up with a formula using plants to scent the leather so that it took away the nasty smell and distracted from the smell of the production. It was so popular that this tradition carried on and is still in existence today. A quick Google search will show you lots of Frangipani gloves available for purchase so that you can have your very own set!

Where can I find this plant?

You’ve probably been exposed to Frangipani in the past and you just didn’t even know it yet!

Frangipani is a huge deal in Polynesian regions. Leis are beautiful necklaces made completely out of Frangipani flowers that are notoriously given as gifts to travelers and worn in many different ceremonial settings. If you’ve seen a movie or tv show about Hawai’i, you’ve seen a lei!

What is the difference between frangipani and plumeria?
the flower call Frangipani or Plumeria or Temple Tree or Graveyard Tree. a lot of white flowers in the tropic forrest.

Aside from leis, in Polynesian culture the Frangipani flower is worn by women as a way to symbolize their current relationship status. A flower over the right ear indicates that the wearer is single, but a flower over the left ear lets everyone know that the wearer is taken.

These beautiful and fragrant flowers have a deep-rooted tradition in many other cultures as well. Though we tend to think of them as Hawaiian flowers, they also grow in many other tropical regions. Frangipani loves warm weather, so places like Brazil, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are where they thrive.

Can I grow Frangipani at my home if I don’t live in one of those regions?


Like many other plants, Frangipani has been brought into different regions and can be acclimated to many different conditions. As it is a tropical plant, it does need a lot of sun and warmer weather. But if you don’t live in the tropics, there are still ways you can make it work!

Tips for a happy Frangipani plant

  • Let soil completely dry out in between watering.
  • Keep it in temperatures above 65 degrees.
  • If you live somewhere cold, plant it in a pot so that it can come inside during colder months.
  • 6 hours a day of FULL sunlight.

Frangipani flowers are mildly toxic to pets and humans if ingested. The most toxic part of the plant is the sap, it will cause blistering and a rash if it touches your skin. Both the sap and flower will cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.  

Final Thoughts

Frangipani is a gorgeous plant that produces beautiful fragrant flowers that are used in many different cultures, regions, and homes.

A species coming from the genus Plumeria, Frangipani thrives in tropical regions but can survive in other settings with the proper home care. Like any other tropical plant, it requires a lot of direct sunlight and warmer temperatures to be happy. Mimicking this climate will result in a happy, beautiful plant for you and your family to enjoy for years to come.

Have you ever owned a Frangipani plant? We would love to see it!

What are some tips and tricks that you’ve found to help it survive through the winter months?

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