You spot this beautiful yellow plumeria blooming in your yard, you eagerly go over to check it out up-close and read the tag “Hurricane.”
“WHAT!!?? Hurricane is not supposed to be YELLOW?? Let me immediately contact the sorry so-and-so who sold me the wrong plant!!”
Sound familiar? Well, here are two pictures of Hurricane, taken at different times of the year, but of the same plant. At first it was hard to believe for me too.
I am using this example to illustrate how incredibly difficult it is to identify a plumeria from a single picture of a bloom. Yet all too often we are expected to do so.
To correctly identify a plumeria we need pictures of blooms, taken at different times, as well as a picture of the leaf and a description of scent and growth habit. And even then we can easily be stumped. Personally, I like to see the plant and bloom in person. If that is not possible, I would hesitate to identify a flower of a variety that I haven’t seen bloom myself.
Some plumeria varieties are unmistakable (although I am still hesitant to say that after my Hurricane event…). But many are not, and it takes a lot of information to be pretty confident about an ID.
Take for instance Madame Poni. Pretty unique, right? Should be easy enough to identify that one.
However, it is blooming right now in my yard, in quite a bit of shade, and bears no resemblance to the quirky, twisty flower you see above.
The conclusion should be that if you have an unknown flower, and you ask a fairly knowledgeable person to take a stab at identification, the best you can expect is a comment like ‘It reminds me a lot of X’……