The History of the Plumeria Society

Plumeria Today > The History of the Plumeria Society

The History of the Plumeria Society
by Darla Racz, organizing member
Published in the March, 1995 Plumeria Potpourri

  • It was 1979 and virtually impossible to find a plumeria in the Houston area. Many nurserymen were not yet familiar with the plumeria. In that same year, the Plumeria Society of America was organized by Elizabeth Thornton, Nadine Barr and Nancy Ames with the intent of furthering knowledge of plumeria. The propagation, culture, classification, identification of species and registration of plumeria cultivars were the goals of the new organization.
  • The first meeting of the Plumeria Society was held at the Houston Arboretum and Botanical Garden on March 13, 1979. Membership was limited to only 75 members and attendance at the three meetings a year was mandatory. A plumeria display and sale was held in June of that year at the Arboretum. All 120 plants and Hawaiian plumeria leis were sold in 20 minutes. Approximately 700 people attended the sale.
  • In 1980, many letters came in asking about plants and seed exchanges. The letters came from as far away as South India, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Membership was increased to 100 members. Garden tours were held at the homes of John and Pili Oliver, Elizabeth Thornton and Nancy Ames.
  • The 1980 Exxon Calendar displayed Dorothy Falkenberg’s plumeria photograph. In 1981, a luncheon meeting was held at Lydia Hilliard’s River Oaks home with Richard Eggenberger of South India as guest speaker. August of 1983 provided the society with a summer workshop at the home of Elizabeth Thornton. There were over 500 blooming plants in her yard.
  • By February 1983, the society had received official notification that it was named registration authority for Plumeria world-wide. The Pantone Color Picker was used as the criteria for identifying and classifying cultivars. Another successful plant display and sale was held in July and the Fifth anniversary social was held at the Oliver’s.
  • In June 1984, 22 members of the society toured the University of Hawaii’s experimental research station with Dr. Richard Criley, as well as the Foster Botanical Gardens. They stayed at the beautiful Sheraton Waikiki. Also in this year the first formal meeting of the registration committee occurred.
  • There was a dues increase and an additional meeting date was added in 1984. A donation of $500.00 was sent to the University of Hawaii and a donation of $100.00 was sent to the University of Houston’s Physiology of Flowering and Tropical Ornamentals Fund. Dr. Larry Barnes from Texas A&M spoke at the July meeting. A delightful “Caribbean Caper” was held in the home of Ken and Mary Duff.
  • In 1986, progress was made on the procedures for registration of cultivars. An honorary membership was awarded to Elizabeth Thornton, and Bill Adams from the county Extension Agency was guest speaker at one of our meetings. Also in the year, the Moragne seed project was started.
  • An award was made to Texas A&M University in 1987 for $2,100 for research on the “Effects of Environmental and Cultural Practices on Growth and Flowering in Plumerias”.
  • In 1988, another research grant for $1,250 was given to study the plumeria at the University of Hawaii. The research was done on growth retardants, chemical branch inducers and keeping qualities of picked flowers. Another successful plant sale and display was held, as well as a summer social at the Nassau Bay Hilton in Clear Lake.
  • In 1989, the society got its first official post office box. There was a plumeria society picnic at Mercer Arboretum, and the gardens of Sven and Kathy Bors-Koefoed, Ardell Broussard and Darla Racz were toured.
  • The society was back in Hawaii in 1990. In August the society enjoyed a Hawaiian luau at the Memorial Forest Club featuring genuine South Sea’s entertainment.
  • 1991 was one of the busiest years for the society. The first two-day conference, luau and garden tour was held in September. It was a great success. The first Plumeria Care Bulletin was printed in the May newsletter thanks to Milt Pierson, and the society again held a successful plant sale.
  • In 1992, the society returned to Hawaii. The registration procedures were revised in a more documented format. Plumeria society member John Murray gave a most interesting program on the “Cultivars of Mexican Plumeria”. The plant sale was held at the Memorial City Mall.
  • In 1993, the society awarded a research grant of $1,000 to the University of Hawaii to study the plumeria borer. The society conducted a successful plant sale and garden tour. The social was held at Landry’s in Kemah.
  • The Plumeria Society of America. Inc. has just completed its 16th successful year. The second Plumeria Conference and Seminar was held in August with a garden tour and a dinner. Dr. Richard A. Criley, keynote speaker, was awarded a lifetime membership in the society, and for the first time two plant sales were held grossing a total of $11,072.
  • The first winter social was held in January. The society gained many new members including international members from France and Switzerland.
  • The Plumeria Society has reached beyond any expectation of growth. It has helped people from all over learn more about the beautiful plumeria plant and its blossom. The society has had a total of 10 successful plant sales and is about to hold another. We have toured Hawaii as a group four times. The research committee continues to bring numerous insights and knowledge about the exotic plumeria. The registration committee has identified and registered many plants and is continuing to accept applications for new cultivars.
  • In the past 16 years much has been accomplished however, there is much more to be done. The future of the Plumeria Society is exciting – Let’s continue to make history.

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