In Mexico, the Nahuatl (Aztec language) name for this plant is “cacalloxochitl” which means “crow flower.” It was used for many medicinal purposes such as salves and ointments.
Depending on location, many other common names exist: “Kembang Kamboja” in Indonesia, “Temple Tree” or “Champa” in India, “Calachuchi” in the Philippines, “Araliya” or “Pansal Mal” in Sri Lanka, “Champey” in Cambodia, “Champa” in Laos, “Hoa Su” in Vietnamese, “Lantom” or “Leelaawadee” in Thai. In Brazil it is called Dama da Noite (“Lady of the Night”). Many English speakers also simply use the generic name “plumeria”.
Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers have no nectar, and simply dupe their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar.
In several Pacific islands, such as Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands Plumeria is used for making leis. In modern Polynesian culture, it can be worn by women to indicate their relationship status – over the right ear if seeking a relationship, and over the left if taken.