I thought I share with you an article I published for everybody
interested in the history of plants....
Plumerias are indigenious to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.
The very first known description of the plumeria is found in the
The Badianus Manuscript is a sixteenth century Aztec herbal medicine
book written in both the Aztec language and Latin by *Martin Cruz*
, both Aztec Indians, educated at the College of Santa
Cruz at Tlaltelco Mexico City. The text is accompanied by beautifully
colored illustrations of the herbs and trees found in this complete
herbal medicine book.
*Don Francisco de Mendoza*
, whose name is historically associated with
the Badianus Manuscript, was the second son of the first Viceroy of New
Spain, Antonio de Mendoza. Don Francisco de Mendoza sent the Badianus
Manuscript back to Spain as a gift to King Charles V.
Through history and individuals connected to the Vatican the Badianus
Manuscript ended up hidden in the Vatican Library. It was re-discovered
there in 1929 by historian Professor Charles Clark. In 1991 Pope John
Paul II returned it to Mexico. It is now in the Institute of
Anthropology and History in Mexico City.
Plumeria, originally spelled *Plumieria*
, is named after the famous
French Franciscan monk and botanist, *Charles Plumier*
. He is considered
one of the most important botanical explorers of his time.
He made three trips to the Caribbean during the period of 1689 to 1697.
Upon his return from the first trip in 1690, he received the title of
Royal Botanist from King Louis XIV of France.
All natural scientists of his day spoke of him with great admiration.
His well known French botanist and teacher, Joseph Pitton De Tournefort,
who also traveled to the New World with his student, and Carl Linnaeus,
the Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, recognized his work and
they named in Charles Plumier's honor the genus Plumeria which belongs
to the family Apocynaceae. Since then it has been called *Plumeria*
the name of Plumeroideae, for its first subfamily.
Today all his texts, notes and drawings are located in the Central
Library of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.
*Dr. William Hillebrand*
, a German physician and botanist, who was born
in Neiheim, Germany in 1821, lived on Hawaii from 1851 to 1871, and died
in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1886. He is known as the person who brought
the first plumeria to Hawaii around 1860. Today this plumeria is known
worldwide as *Plumeria 'Celadine'*
Dr. Hillebrand had a strong presence and made significant contributions
to the Hawaiian people during his twenty year stay there. He became the
appointed physician to the royal family at The Queen's Hospital, now the
present day Queen's Medical Center. He, along with nine other doctors,
petitioned for and was granted a charter for today's Hawai'i Medical
Association and he served as the chief physician at the hospital from
1860 to 1871.
In 1853 Dr. Hillebrand purchased 13 acres of land from Queen Kalama and
over the years he planted a number of exotic and native trees in his
garden. Some were brought back from his travels on behalf of the
Hawaiian Government to collect and import plants and animals that would
be useful to the Islands.
Prior to his return to Germany Dr. Hillebrand sold the property and
developed garden to Captain Thomas and Mary Foster. Years later Mary
Foster bequeathed the land to the city of Honolulu, which opened it to
the public as *Forster Botanical Garden*
. Local Hawaiians and
visitors from all over the world continue to visit these beautiful
In the *1930s*
the first cutting of Plumeria obtusa was brought to
Hawaii by *Harold L. Lyon*
from the famous Singapore Botanical Gardens,
noted for their long history of plant research and study throughout
Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Today this evergreen variety is known as *Plumeria obtusa 'Singapore'*
Mr. Lyon was the founder and director of the Manoa Arboretum which was
established in 1918 by the Hawaiian Sugar Planter's Association, HSPA,
to demonstrate watershed restoration and test various tree species for
reforestation, as well as collect living plants of economic value. This
unique rainforest arboretum bears his name, *Harold L. Lyon Arboretum*
*Bill M. Moragne Sr.*
was the first to discover how to *hand-pollinate*
plumerias in *1953*
. Since then countless hybrids of spectacular beauty
with intoxicating fragrances have been created by the process of
hand-pollination thanks to Bill M. Moragne Sr.
Unlike Mexico, the Caribbean island nations and the Central American
countries, the native habitat of the plumeria, Hawaii has made itself
synonymous with the plumeria by commercializing it.
Even though the plumeria is not native to the Hawaiian Islands most of
the world travelers to these Islands have lasting memories of receiving
a lei made up of these beautifully scented tropical flowers on their
arrival or departure.
The Hawaiian Islands is the number one place in the world that people
associate with the word plumeria'. Hawaiis commercialization of the
plumeria goes far beyond the famous Hawaiian leis. It also includes the
sale of plumeria seeds, seedlings, rooted and unrooted cuttings, fresh
flowers and freshly handmade leis. Other plumeria related products
include perfumes, scented candles, plumeria designed jewelry and
clothing, prints, photos and cards.
Thanks to the Hawaiian Islands people from all around the world have
fallen in love with the plumeria, which they first met there.
Copyright Bob Walsh 2013