Plumeria rubra is a deciduous plant species belonging to the genus Plumeria. Originally native to Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela, it has been widely cultivated in subtropical and tropical climates worldwide and is a popular garden and park plant, as well as being used in temples and cemeteries. It grows as a spreading tree to 7–8 m (23–26 ft) high and wide, and is flushed with fragrant flowers of shades of pink, white and yellow over the summer and autumn. Its common names include frangipani, red paucipan, red-jasmine, red frangipani, common frangipani, temple tree, or simply plumeria.
Large shrubs or small trees, plumerias (Plumeria spp.) grow best in the warm climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. Although plumerias need frost-free weather to grow outdoors year-round, in cooler climates they can be grown in containers and brought indoors for the winter. The aromatic flowers are traditionally used to make leis. While most parts of plumerias are toxic, the flowers are edible.
The white flowers of West Indian jasmine (Plumeria alba) have a bright yellow center and may be up to 3 inches wide. Nosegay (Plumeria rubra) flowers may have white or yellow centers. Plumerias produce most of their waxy, funnel-shaped flowers in summer, but may also produce flowers in other seasons when the weather is balmy. Long, slender seedpods follow the blooms. The seeds may be harvested to propagate new plants. The common name for the flowers is frangipani.
Eating the Flowers
Plumeria blooms may be used raw in salads, steeped into a tea, fried or as an ingredient in making candies, jellies and omelets. Recipes that call for "frangipani" or "frangipane" in the ingredients, often mean an almond paste, rather than plumeria flowers.
Handle With Care
When injured, plumeria trees ooze a white latex that can be highly irritating to the skin, so wear gloves when working with the plant. If the sap gets on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible with soap and water.
Traditional Herbal Teas in Southern China
Guangdong is a province in southern China located in a sub-tropical zone. The high temperatures and humidity can cause bacterial and fungal growth, meaning that people tend to become dehydrated with a tendency to suffer from heat stroke, skin rashes, diarrhea and infectious diseases. Local residents prepare various refreshing drinks to cope with the rigors of their environment.
From a TCM understanding, hot and wet weather makes it easy for exogenous heat and dampness evils to attack the body. These two important pathogens combine to form damp-heat evils which consume the qi (vital energy), impair body fluids and cause a series of health problems. When contacting damp-heat evils, individuals will present fever, irritability, thirst, excessive secretions, limb heaviness, chest tightness, nausea and diarrhea generally. When these evils attack different parts the body, they cause specific syndromes. For example:
on the skin, they cause eczema, acne and other raised rashes;
localized swelling and pain in the joints and tendons;
gastric and abdominal distention, poor appetite, loose stools and urinary difficulty when the spleen and stomach are affected;
rib pain, bitter taste in the mouth, lack of appetite, blurred version, jaundice, or alternating fevers and chills if the liver and gall-bladder are affected;
urinary frequency, urinary difficulty, scanty, turbid and dark yellow urine when these evils attack the bladder;
in the large intestine, these evils cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, mucus bloody stools, and burning sensation in the anus.
Herbal beverages are an ideal way to prevent the above conditions as they are made for clearing heat and dampness, replenishing qi, supplying fluid, nourishing yin and checking yang. These beverages are referred as "cooling teas" because of their bitter flavor, dark brown color and the cool or cold properties of their ingredients.
Their healing properties are exerted in the following ways:
1. Clears heat and promotes perspiration: this helps in the alleviation of colds and flu, upper respiratory inflammations, dysentery, and signal symptoms of some infectious diseases.
2. Clears heat and cools the blood: this can lower blood pressure and arrest bleeding.
3. Clears heat and resolves dampness: this helps in the treatment of digestive problems like stomach upsets, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hepatitis and gall bladder infections.
4. Clears heat and promotes urination: this helps in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
5. Clears heat and aids detoxification: this helps in the treatment of tonsillitis, sore throat, mumps and skin diseases.
People in Southern China have been drinking "cooling tea" for over two centuries. In addition to the common heat - clearing herbs, people like to use local ingredients, and brew according to their own preferences. At first, people brought the herbal ingredients back home and cooked them themselves; gradually, herbal shops began to provide ready-made forms for convenience. In the early days, these drinks were effective and affordable remedies for ordinary people to treat and prevent disease.
Due to their general healing benefits, herbalists use many ingredients to prepare their herbal teas. A typical tea called "Twenty-four Flavor Tea" is claimed to have over 20 kinds of herbal ingredients. There are no standard prescriptions, and often herbal shops keep their recipes secret. Recipes may alter ingredients due to the particular time of year.
Today, these traditional teas still remain popular folk remedies in southern China. These natural fresh drinks are not only able to protect against climatic influences, but also aim at relieving aliments caused by stressful urban lifestyles. Below are common teas found in Hong Kong.