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Identifying a plumeria

Hurricane 2 081411

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.

Hurricane

Hurricane

Hurricane

Hurricane

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.

Madame Poni

Madame Poni

Madame Poni

Madame Poni

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’……

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About the Author

Hetty Ford

Hetty FordEver since first being introduced to plumeria in the year 2000, they have played an important role in my life, from taking over my yard, to serving as a fundraising tool, to just plain bringing me joy and pleasure every day that I look out my window!! My general love for plants took me to the Naples Botanical Gardens, initially as a volunteer, and now as Curator of the Plumeria Collection. I am happy to be able to say I was instrumental in bringing first the Thornton varieties, and then a full complement of the PSA-registered varieties to Naples; this collection was given National Plant Collection status in 2011. Dutch by birth but widely-traveled since my late teens, and married for 32 years to a husband who indulges my love for these flowers, I now like to call myself semi-retired, so that I can justify spending all waking hours in the pursuit of growing blooming tropical plants, of course most specifically plumeria! I have a plumeria ('Henriette') named for me by the late Luc Vannoorbeeck, and have registered eight cultivars (Allegro, Bella Napoli, Beacon Lights, Riviera Rainbow, Festivity, Sugar Plum Fairy, Ventiquattro and Vivace) with the PSA.View all posts by Hetty Ford →