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Plumeria - cacaloxóchitl - "crow's flower"

“Crow’s flower,” cacaloxóchitl, comes from Nahuatl. Like tuberose, Plumeria species are originally native to Mesoamerica where, for more than two millenia, they carried complex symbolic significance. Modern cultures of the region have developed rich meanings for the flower as well. The Maya connected plumeria with female sexuality and deities of life and fertility. Among Nahuatl-speaking people cacaloxóchitl signified elite status. Plumeria trees adorned the gardens of nobility during the height of the Aztec Empire.
     The flowers employ deception to lure nocturnal pollinators. Becoming most fragrant at night, these nectarless blossoms attract sphinx moths who are tricked into inadvertently transferring pollen from flower to flower in a fruitless search for nectar. When broken or picked, cacaloxóchitl will ooze a milky latex containing poisonous compounds that may irritate the skin and eyes.
© 2022, Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.