Yesterday I had a customer ring and enquire on the availability of a couple of flowers for an upcoming party she has in a few weeks. One was lavender, which is readily available at the moment, but the other was Frangipani. Given that we are in the throes of winter, Frangipani are not commercially available. Having said that, there may indeed be a random tree in your street with a few token blooms, and interstate or international suppliers may indeed also have them available- but at what cost and what quality?
After further discussion, and having suggested other scented flowers or even the possibility of using artificial Frangipani, I discovered the actually the lady had intended to use the Frangipani as decoration on and around the cake. Wowzers! What worries me most about this situation is that had she been able to get them from a neighbour down the street, she may well have used them, had my price not been comparable (to free!)
But this is where industry professionals are an invaluable resource. Frangipani (or Plumeria) are related to the Oleander Plant, both of which possess a poisonous milky sap, similar to that of the Euphorbia family. A cut on any part of the Frangipani tree will exude a milky, sticky sap, which is poisonous to both humans and animals. That said, Frangipani are not an appropriate choice for decoration of food products unless they are prepared appropriately. Simply placing the blooms on the cake with no barrier would be insufficient in terms of protecting the food from possible contamination from the sap.
A trained florist can wire and parafilm (tape) each bloom for you so that you are able to use the Frangipani effectively on food products. This is fiddly, and will cost you a little, but it is certainly worth the investment I think.
Other poisonous blooms include, but are not limited to:
- Calla Lily
- Lily of the Valley
Now fear not, eating a small quantity of most of these blooms will not likely result in death, but larger quantities might. Most of these flowers if ingested will give a severe case of diahorrea, vomiting, headaches and cramps. It is just something that you should be mindful of if you are considering D.I.Y-ing for your next party or soirée.
As a general rule, it is not recommended that flowers that are grown for florists are used directly on a cake in any case, poisonous or not. This is simply because they may have been sprayed with chemical, fumigated or dipped in products like ‘Round Up’ so that they cannot be struck and grown from a cutting (in the case of imported products that may be harmful to Australia’s unique environment).
Flowers that have been grown for a florists commercial use, should firstly be cut, then wired to create an artificial stem, then taped using a plastic tape film to prevent any transfer of plant material to the cake.
Cake pieces do tend to be fiddly as a result of all this time consuming work, and therefore can be costly but really, it is a small price to pay to ensure you keep all your guests safe.
After all your hard work party planning, you don’t want one of your guests, or yourself to fall ill….that would really be the icing on the cake!