A South American native, the first recorded in the Philippines was Bougainvillea spectabilis. The other species were introduced much later. The genus derived its name from Antoine de Bougainville, the first Frenchman who crossed the Pacific.
Bougainvillea flowers all year-round here, but they're more prolific in the summer. It is a woody climber that can grow to a height of more than 10 meters, with large thorny stems and long drooping branches. Flowers are in group of threes, forming clusters. Currently, there are over 300 varieties of Bougainvillea around the world. Numerous cultivars are cultivated in the Philippines, with single of multiple bracts, in varied colors of red, purple, pink, yellow, orange and white.
Leaves are used in folkloric medicine to treat a variety of disorders---from diarrhea, to reduce stomach acidity, cough and sore throat. In Panama, an infusion of flowers is used as treatment for low blood pressure; crude extract of leaves is used in Niger for diabetes. A decoction of dried stems is said to treat hepatitis.
|Bougainvillea, Paper Flower, Bongabilya, Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd.|
"The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it it shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly and struggles to the light amid the thorns." ~ George Santayana