Everywhere around Bali, and especially in many gardens and around many homes you will come across frangipani – yellow-white flowers growing on trees.
Locally known as jepun or kamboja, the frangipani is Bali’s signature flower. It is often used in offerings, religious ceremonies, or decorations. It also smells nice too and is used in a wide variety of cosmetic products. That smell of incense you happened to pick up during a morning walk? Probably frangipani.
The frangipani, also known as plumeria, is a genus of tropical flowers that are native to Central America but can be found in many tropical to sub-tropical regions. The flowers are mostly yellow and white, but in Bali, you can find red-white-yellow varieties. The red ones are usually more fragrant than white ones and you will be mesmerized by their smell.
Frangipani trees can be found almost everywhere in Bali.They are planted at temples, to provide flowers for the priests and people to offer to the gods; at homes and restaurants for added decoration; and even along the sidewalk.
Frangipani trees are mostly small, but in Bali, some frangipani trees are bred to amazing heights. Tempted to pick a flower? For high trees, locals often have a bamboo stick ready nearby the tree. The tip is cut into a V-shape, and you need to carefully place the tip beneath the stalk and twist it so the flower falls. Or, if you’re tall enough, just pick one! Be careful of the milky white sap, though! It stains clothes and irritates skin.
Credit Artem Beliaikin
Frangipanis are bred mostly for their flowers, which are often used in religious ceremonies, both for prayer and decorating offerings. Their fragrance and beautiful colors make them great candidates for flowers to be offered to the gods.
But nowadays, frangipanis have their own place as a commodity. Dried frangipanis can be ground into a fine powder used as a mixture for making incense, body lotions, and even perfumes and essential oils.
Bali has also many other stunningly beautiful flowers. Like the lotus, or teratai. It has a variety of colors, such as white, purple, yellow, red… and it is also used in ceremonies as well.
There is also Thumbergia or bunga kelinci. You can see the long cascades of white or blue trumpets hanging from balconies and courtyards and it’s graceful swags decorate the entrances of many hotels and restaurants in Bali.
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