Bougainvillea Flowers – Beautiful to Behold, But Beware
Of all the amazing blooming plants found all throughout the Caribbean, the ones I love the most are bougainvillea flowers. They’re also the ones of which I’m most wary.
It’s easy to see why I, or anyone else for that matter, would love them. Bougainvillea positively burst with vibrant colors. This magenta bougainvillea that we came across at Two Sandals Bed and Breakfast in St. Thomas last year is fairly uncommon in my experience. More often you tend to see purple, red, orange, and yellow varieties.
All those brilliant colors, though, are not bougainvillea flowers.
The Actual Flowers in Bougainvillea Flowers
The flowers are actually the tiny white blooms at the ends of green stems within the brightly colored bracts. They’re usually found in clusters of three with the paper-like colorful bracts sprouting all around them.
Bougainvillea Origins + Discovery
Bougainvillea flowers abound all over the Caribbean, though they’re not native to our islands. Their original home is South America; specifically an area now shared by Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.
The flower is said to have been “discovered” in the 1760s by Philibert Commerçon. The French botanist just happened to be along on Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s quest to circumnavigate the world. Commerçon named the flower in honor of his host.
Bougainvillea National Flower
Bougainvillea are found all throughout the Caribbean. Nowhere, though, are they held in higher esteem than in Grenada. Bougainvillea is the national flower of the Spice Island. The island’s coat of arms is even crowned by a wreath of red bougainvillea.
If you ever think of making a similarly-styled crown for yourself, well… don’t. Behind all that beauty, bougainvillea flowers hide some fairly nasty thorns. (This is where my wariness comes in.)
So yeah, you should definitely handle these cuties with care, or just admire them from afar.