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Plumeria rubra - Temple tree


Native to:



Central America, Colombia and Venezuela.

Dry, hot rocky areas and mountain slopes. Up to 1500 meters above sea level. 7 meter tall tree.

Plumeria rubra - Temple tree

Ecological value:

Attracts pollinators including moths. Seeds consumed by small birds and mammals. Slow but easy to grow. Tolerant of salty winds. Succeeds in disturbed areas and can survive prominent dry seasons, flowering on bare branches.

Material uses:

Essential oil from flowers, used in aromatherapy. Glycosides have a moisturizing effect. The tree produces rubber. The wood is hard and compact, and is mostly used in turnery due to its small size. Primarily the tree is grown as an ornamental.

Edible uses:

Flowers used in sweetmeats.

Medicinal use:

Bark treats gonorrhea, venereal sores, amoebic dysentery, scabies and wounds from poisonous fish. Leaves treat muscular swelling. Latex treats rheumatic pain, toothaches.

Other details:

Freshly snapped off branches easily propagate. The white, milky sap is toxic and can irritate the skin. On Molokai Island (Hawaii), flowers are used in neck-garlands. National flower of Nicaragua. The sap treats wasp and bee stings and centipede bites.


Amy Feng/Christine Facella


“Plumeria Rubra L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 16, 2023.
“Plumeria Rubra - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Manandhar. N. P., ‘Plants and People of Nepal’, Timber Press. Oregon. 2002
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959 n.d. “Plumeria Extract.” Accessed November 24, 2023.
Image source: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.

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