Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tiptoe Through The Tulips: Bougainvillea

This is a bougainvillea that we have in the front yard.
I did a lot of digging to try to figure out what kind it is, but have run into a bunch of dead ends on that front. Let's look at the data we have on the three pure species that exist, and how my plant relates to them:

  • Leaves -- The leaves most resemble the peruviana species, with oblate, hairless, evergreen characteristics.

  • Brachts -- These are the colorful leaves that most people would assume are the flowers, but the flowers are actually at the center of these colorful paperlike brachts. The plant in our yard is closest to the spectablis species, with the bright magenta color and the triangular shape.

  • Thorns -- Yes, there are thorns, but they are deep inside the plant, and generally blunt, so I haven't maimed myself yet. Here, again, we match up to spectablis.

  • Flowers -- The little parts at the center of the bracht (at least before they fall off) are white, aligning best with glabra.

  • Habit -- This characteristic is primarily around what the plant likes to do and how it grows. Since this one blooms multiple times and grows very densely, we have another checkmark for spectablis.

  • So, what do we have here -- three nods to spectablis, with one each to peruviana and glabra. This would normally tip me to the leading species, except spectablis "is noted for its hairy leaves and stems" which my plant clearly does not have. As such, it is likely some sort of hybrid of these. Now there are 300 hybrids of this showy flowering plant, so my technical term for it is a big pink bougainvillea bush. How's that for fancy? Regardless, it's pretty hardy and just blooms whenever I water it as much as I can manage. Conveniently it's in an unshaded south-facing spot, which is good, since as a tropical plant, it prefers tons of sun, too. I like it when I find another plant I probably can't kill, but with a bit of care will bloom like it's 1999.

    2 comments:

    Rosa said...

    This is my favorite plant in my yard. It responds better when you ignore it (you know my "green thumb" I need low maintenance)! You can cut a branch and stick it in water and it will grow roots too. My mom has some that are practically trees, though she has had those forever. YAY I finally recognized one of them :)

    Heather said...

    This one made me feel like I hadn't moved to the moon -- all the other plants look nothing like Texas plants.