Good Luck Ti Leaf

The Ti Plant

Pronounced “tea”, but it’s not the tea the English drink – that tea plant that is a camellia.
Cordyline fruticosa is the scientific name of an evergreen flowering big leaved plant in the Asparagus family, also called: good luck plant, palm lily, ti plant, Kī.

Hookupu Logo
The Ho’okupu, our Logo

Growing up to 15 ft tall, typically with leaves 12–24 in at the top of a fibrous stem. It produces long bunches of small scented yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries. Native to tropical southeastern Asia, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, northeastern Australia, the Indian Ocean, and parts of Polynesia, it is not native to either Hawaii.

Canoe Plant

Ti is a “canoe plant” spread from its native range to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers. Its starchy roots are very sweet when mature, and eaten as food, made into candy or as medicine, and the leaves were used to thatch the roofs of houses.

Ti “Mana” In Old Hawaii

In ancient Hawaiʻi the plant was thought to have great spiritual power (mana); only kahuna (high priests) and aliʻi (chiefs) were able to wear leaves around their necks during certain ritual activities. Tī leaves were also used to make lei, and to outline borders between properties it was also planted at the corners of the home to keep ghosts from entering the home or property. Ancient Hawaiians also believed that the leaves had medicinal use as antiseptic and diuretic. The roots of the tī plant were used as a glossy covering on surfboards in Hawaii in the early 1900s.

Still popular in Hawaii for many uses:
360px- TI Plant in the semi-wild Cordyline_fruticosa_plant_with-fruit
Semi-wild Ti
  • Hawaiian hula skirts
  • To wrap up the traditional offerings, gifts and to carry things
  • Wrapping steamed foods such as Lau Lau (which you can buy in most big stores and stands in Hawaii)
  • Disposable plates and to serve food on
  • Leis, especially for men and at sporting events
  • Property corner markers in rural areas
  • People in rural Hawaii still plant tī near their houses to bring good luck
  • Ti is a popular ornamental plant, with numerous colors, sizes and forms available, it’s well known in Southern California as a landscape plant
  • Tī rhizomes are sometimes still fermented and distilled to make okolehao, a potent liquor

Green Ti Logs Pack 2 Pack

Wild Ti Photo: Ethel Aardvark WikiCommons


Plumeria vs Frangipani vs Frangipane

Plumeria has a rich history surrounding its name, enticing fragrance, pastry and lore. It has several names that include a fragrance and a dessert.


This name for plumeria is associated with fragrance, perfumes, creams and soaps especially in Europe and the old world.

Actually, the history of the name is muddled.

The Frangipani family was a powerful Roman patrician clan in the Middle Ages. The name comes from frangi “breaking” + pani “bread,” a reference to the family’s distribution of bread in time of famine. In the sixteenth-century this noble family in Italy claimed to invent a plumeria-scented perfume (in reality they made a synthetic perfume that was said that resembled the odor of the recently discovered flowers).

This family’s name became attached to the plumeria when apparently either a Marquise, his wife or his nephew or someone related, sold this perfume for riding gloves. Due to the fact that riding gloves really stank in the 16th-century (because people rode horses all day), it was important to have a strong fragrance hiding the smell. Because the perfume was a big success, when the flower became well known in Europe, the flower was named for this fragrance.

frangipane tart slice Gros_plan_de_galette_des_rois
Frangipane pastry, this is the French “Galette_des_Rois” served on January 6th, Epiphany


Frangipane is the singular form of the family name Frangipani and an alternate spelling of the Italian name. But more famously frangipane is the name of a pastry ingredient. Similar to a marzipan, it’s a mixture of almond flour, egg, sugar and butter. Supposedly the smell of almonds, sugar and some spices reminded people of the the fragrance of the plumeria/frangipani flower. It may also be associated because “pane” means bread. It’s the filling in an almond croissant as well as the French Epiphany (Three Kings Day) cake contain frangipane almond cream. In Britain, the cake itself is called a frangipane.


Charles Plumier botanist engraved portrait print
Charles Plumier – French botanist for whom Plumeria is named

The plumeria family (genus) is named in honor of the seventeenth-century French botanist Charles Plumier. He traveled to the New World, particularly the Caribbean where our plumeria are mostly from. Plumier is considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of his time, documenting many plant and animal species. He made three botanizing expeditions to the West Indies, which resulted in a massive work Nova Plantarum Americanarum Genera (1703–04) and was appointed botanist to king Louis XIV of France.

Lei Flower

Plumeria is also called lei flower, because it was used frequently in the past and given to visitors. Popular due to its large size, lasting fragrance, and because it’s sturdy structure makes it easy to string. Plumeria also grows vigorously and produces large numbers of flowers in a perfect tropical array of colors. Visitors to Hawaii have become knowledgeable and sophisticated therefore this name has fallen from use. Many flowers are used for lei making today.