Plumerias are not native to Hawaiʻi but have been widely cultivated and naturalized in the islands. They are believed to be native to Central America, Mexico, and Venezuela. Plumerias thrive in warm, tropical climates and require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. The trees are known for their resilience and ability to tolerate drought conditions.
The plumeria is not native to Hawaiʻi but was brought to the islands in the 1860s by Dr. William Hillebrand, a German biologist. Initially associated with cemeteries, it later became a symbol of beauty and is widely used in leis.
Over time, numerous plumeria varieties have been cultivated, featuring different colors, scents, and petal shapes. Plumeria holds significant cultural importance in Hawaiian traditions, symbolizing various aspects of life and nature.
Plumeria flowers are widely used in creating leis. Leis are often worn and exchanged during special occasions. The giving and receiving of leis are gestures of aloha, which represents love, compassion, and hospitality. The act of giving a plumeria lei is a way of expressing warmth and positive feelings toward others.
Plumeria, with its vibrant and fragrant blossoms, has made its mark on Hawaiian fashion in various ways. Plumeria motifs are commonly incorporated into Hawaiian jewelry design. Whether in the form of pendants, earrings, or rings, plumeria-inspired jewelry reflects the cultural significance of the flower. These pieces are often crafted with attention to detail, capturing the delicate and graceful qualities of plumeria blossoms.
One of the classic ways to wear Plumeria flowers is by tucking them behind the ear. The choice of which ear to adorn with the flower carries its own significance. Placing a flower behind the right ear signifies that the woman is available and seeking a relationship, while placing it behind the left ear indicates that she is already in a committed relationship.