Plumeria: Deceivers of the Night

Whether you want to identify a building, flower or birdsong of the one waking you at some ungodly hour, there always seems to be an ‘app’ to help out. Not always 100% successful, or anywhere near it on more than a few occasions, of course, but certainly reasonable results. That was the case with this plant, correctly identified as Plumeria. I’m usually quite happy endlessly thumbing through ‘real’ books to find answers, but sometimes the easy way is appropriate, like when you are out for a wander without a library in tow.

Plumeria is a genus of mostly deciduous flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae and are endemic to Mexico, Central America, Brazil and the Caribbean. Sometimes these plants are known as ‘frangipani’, a name apparently referring to a sixteenth-century Italian marquis who claimed to have invented a plumeria-scented perfume.

Plumeria, Nerja

Plumeria flowers are con-artists. They are at their most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. However, it is all a ruse as the flowers don’t actually yield any nectar and these gullible moths unwittingly pollinate them during their fruitless search for nectar. You would think the moths would learn, but obviously not.

pink Plumeria, Nerja
Plumeria flowers
Plumeria flowers, Nerja
Plumeria in bloom, Nerja