The plumeria is a popular flower in Hawaii for its large blossoms and its beautiful assortment of colors. Its scientific name is Apocynaceae, and its Hawaiian name is melia. The plumeria flower is made up of five large petals and often has two or three colors in each petal. They are strongly scented, and different varieties have different scents. These can range from sweet to citrusy to fruity. The plumeria flower comes in yellow and white varieties, pink varieties and those that are white, yellow and pink. Because they already have such lovely colors, they are not dyed. A plumeria lei will last about a day after its delivery and should be kept refrigerated until it is worn.
Plumerias were a symbol of death to Hawaiians. When plumeria trees were introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the 1800s, they were planted in cemeteries for beautification. This gave them an association with death that kept Hawaiians from wearing them. But today, they are one of the most popular lei flowers for their lovely colors, intoxicating scent and large size. Loose plumeria flowers are strung together in a single-strand lei to create the magnificent plumeria leis. Hawaiian plumeria is sometimes paired with ti leaves to accent the flowers with greenery. Because of their early associations, plumeria leis are often worn when decorating graves, but they are also given for graduations, as a greeting and worn to parties. Choose one of the fresh plumeria leis below to wear one of Hawaii’s most beautiful flowers.
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