National Flower Series – Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Plumeria Rubra or Dok Champa)
Dok Champa, also known as frangipani or plumeria rubra or 缅栀花(鸡蛋花), is the national flower of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (“Laos”). The trees are considered sacred and planted throughout the country, everywhere from the Southern Province “Champasack” to Northern Province “Phongsaly” especially in the monastic areas. The waxy flower, with a sweet scent, release at night, can be found in many colors: red, yellow, pink and multiple pastels but the national symbol is the white Dok Champa with the yellow center.
In Laos, Champa symbolizes joy in life and sincerity. It is often used as a decoration in ceremonies or made into a garland for welcoming guests. The flowers were also mixed with water and poured over Buddha statues during Lao New Year (Pi Mai). They are used as a garnish of food and drink and don’t be surprise if you found deep fried frangipani in your dishes which was added to impart a subtle aroma.
The fabulous frangipani, Plumeria rubra is a deciduous plant species belong to the genus Plumeria originated from Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela. It has a stunning flower and were grown in the tropics and subtropics as garden and park ornamental plants. It’s well known for its beautiful and fragrant flowers, the colours of which can vary enormously from white with a yellow centre, through shades of apricot and right through to pink and even dark red.
Frangipanis are always equated with historic, old hat and can commonly found in old ancient historic monastic areas in countries such as Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. In countries like Malaysia and Singapore, it is not difficult to find such plants in the courtyards of the historic residential properties where such plants were planted in abundant due to their easy maintenance and beautiful flowers. However, in some South and South East Asian cultures, the plants were associated with death, vampires, shelters for demons and ghosts etc where such they were planted in the cemetery and used in funerals.
Propagating frangipani is simple by taking a piece of hardwood about 300 millimeters long. Leave the cutting in the sun for a couple of weeks to dry out and then put into some potting mix. Within a few weeks it will have formed roots.