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Plumeria alba: White Frangipani1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2


Frangipani is well-known for its intensely fragrant, lovely, spiral-shaped blooms which appear at branch tips June through November. The tree itself is rather unusual in appearance; the 20-inch-long, coarse, deciduous leaves clustered only at the tips of the rough, blunt, sausage-like, thick, grey-green branches. Branches are upright and rather crowded on the trunk forming a vase or umbrella shape with age. They are rather soft and brittle and can break but are usually sturdy unless they are mechanically hit or disturbed. A milky sap is exuded from the branches when they are bruised or punctured.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Plumeria alba: White Frangipani
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Plumeria alba: White Frangipani
Credit: Ed Gilman

General Information

Scientific name: Plumeria alba
Pronunciation: ploo-MEER-ee-uh AL-buh
Common name(s): White Frangipani
Family: Apocynaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; sidewalk cutout (tree pit); deck or patio; specimen; container or planter; street without sidewalk; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; highway median
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 20 to 25 feet
Spread: 20 to 25 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round, vase
Crown density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval), obovate
Leaf venation: brachidodrome, pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches, 8 to 12 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: red
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage


Flower color: white/cream/gray
Flower characteristics: very showy


Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: 6 to 12 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: brown, green
Current year twig thickness: very thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Frangipani is very susceptible to freezing temperatures and should be adequately protected or planted only in areas which do not freeze in the winter. Plants will grow quickly in full sun on a variety of well-drained soils and are fairly drought- and salt-tolerant. Reaching a height of 20 to 25 feet with an equal spread, Frangipani works well as a freestanding specimen, a patio tree, or as part of a shrubbery border. It displays well in a front yard as an attention-grabber by the entrance. It can be grown with a single trunk or branched low to the ground into a multi-trunked specimen. Single-trunk specimens could be planted as median or street trees on 15 to 20-foot-centers.

Plumeria alba has white flowers with yellow centers while Plumeria rubra produces red-toned flowers. Plumeria obtusa has white blooms centered in yellow and is variable in form and color. There are many other selections of Frangipani which display a variety of flower colors. They are widely grown in Hawaii where they are used in flower arrangements and in leis.

Propagation is by cuttings. Large hardwood cuttings should be allowed to dry several days while leafy tip cuttings should be planted immediately. The plants flower at an early age.


Some common pests of this tree are scales, frangipani caterpillar, and nematodes.


No diseases are of major concern. Root rot can infect plants planted in soils with poor drainage. Rust disease occasionally infects foliage.


1. This document is ENH649, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH649

Release Date:April 6, 2015

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