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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bougainvillea, the glory of gardens

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Called as Paper Flower in English, Bougainvillea is a shrub that some times grows as a garden tree. It can also be grown in flower pots and can be trimmed from time to time to shape as desired. It is one of the most colourful features of attraction in eastern gardens, along roadsides, along boundaries of gardens and most often as fences.

Taxonomically, bougainvillea belongs to the family of Four O’ Clock plant or Nictaginaceae. Its colours vary from magenta, white, brick red, pale pink, salmon, yellow and purple to crimson. The colourful appearance of bougainvillea is not due to the petals of its flowers, but due to its bracts. These bracts surround the true flowers. Flowers are small and tubular in shape. Each of the flowers is partly adhered to the base of the bract. The calyx tube is long and ridged, and it is usually creamy or greenish in colour. The flower as we see is white to yellow in colour.

The stem of bougainvillea is cylindrical, light green in colour and tough or woody. It is armed with pointed spines that help the plant in climbing on a support, if available. Leaves of the plant are simple and alternate with reticulate venation. They may be slightly pointed at the tips and a bit hairy, but not always. Horticulturists have developed a number of hybrid varieties of this plant. Some important varieties of the plant are B. spectabilis`, `B. Glabra`, `B. Peruviana` and `B. Buttiana`. The leaves of B. glabra are soft, oblong, and bright green in colour.

Bougainvillea can be brought from a good nursery and grown in small pots. Any cutting can be put in a pot containing good humid soil to take roots. A rooting hormone can also be applied to the cut part of the cutting so as to speed up the emergence of roots. There is an institution called as IHR which is located in Bangalore. This institution is reportedly doing considerable research on Bougainvillea.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica – Bougainvillea is a gnus of about 18 species that comprise shrubs, vines or small trees. It is native to South America. Some researchers report that intake of aquous extract of Bougainvillea glabra has the capacity of treating Diabetes mellitus.

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Key Words: Bougainvillea glabra, South America, Diabetes mellitus

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