This plant is named after a 16th century Italian marquis who made a perfume that resembled the fragrance of these flowers. Plumeria alba (white flowered) and plumeria rubra (red flowered) from the Apocynaceae family have flowers that are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The blooms have five waxy petals in a range of colors from pure white and yellow to deep red, pinks and several sunset varieties. The center of the flower is often yellow, making a striking contrast with the petals.
In Buddhism, plumeria symbolizes immortality probably because the tree produces new blooms even after it has been uprooted. It is a sacred tree in Laos and they are planted outside every Buddhist temple. These trees live for hundreds of years. In the Mayan culture, the plumeria bloom represents birth and life. In the ancient Indian healing science of Ayurveda, the oil of the plumeria is considered to be a warming oil and effective in treating fear, anxiety and insomnia. It is also used to treat tremors.