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Ancient beauty survivor

October 20, 2017
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Polynesian missionaries were responsible for spreading this beauty around, even before the 1800s, arriving in Australia from South America. These were dangerous times of survival in the tropical jungles filled with snakes, crocs and cyclone-prone seasons.

This lovely survived many hardships.

When gold mining and the sugar cane business became an industry, the natives were put to work as slaves and the European settlers prospered.

In time, the laws were changed and Polynesian slaves were set free. Not because of the missionaries, but because the hard, dangerous work was all done.

On a lighter note, the Polynesian people did flourish and they were happy people and they loved their beautiful flowering frangipani trees.

The perfect tree for a warm world, it is heat and drought tolerant, suffers neglect well and surprisingly, does not burn easily. It will withstand heat over 500 degrees!

You know already that this tree is also called plumeria. There are several varieties and a reason for the two names. Two names mainly because two men get credit for this tree. A 17th century French biologist actually discovered several species. Guess what? His name was Charles Plumier so the name plumeria became the name of this lovely, flowering tree.

The name Frangipani came about due to an Italian nobleman, Marquis Fragipani. He created a perfume from the natural scent of the flowers. He actually created the perfume in the 16th century to perfume gloves. Not being a botanist, he did not hold any special claim, however, they wore a lot of gloves in those days so he did make history with his frangipani scents.

Polynesian ladies like to wear the flowers in their hair.

A young woman wearing a bloom behind her right ear is seeking a relationship. Worn behind the left ear means she is not available. Either way, try it, you will feel beautiful. Around your neck, you were in Hawaii.

This tree has been used in countless ways in other cultures for its success in healing qualities. Indigestion is said to improve when treated with mashed bark. Roots and sap to treat blood pressure. Sorry, no recipes.

This area lost a few of these beautiful trees during the last hurricane. 25-year-old trees blown down. Sad. You can't put a stalk of blooms into a vase with a touch of water, or float a blossom in a dish of water.

The most fun thing to do is cut a log-like piece from a tree limb and let it lay around a couple of weeks and plant it and it will grow to be a 20-foot tree in time.

I know that works, I did that when we first go here. I really did not believe it would work. I kept it in the big black nursery pot for about 4 years. We put it in the yard and it just grew and grew. Yes, it does drop all its leaves when it comes time. Just run over them with the mower, and let them nourish the earth beneath.

Happy days are near, the temperature is lowering and the breezes are back. Watch out for dryness now.

Watch Rotary Park for its schedule of how to go things right now. It's free information! Winter garden color, and fertilizer ideas coming up.

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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