Bougainvilleas,are woody semi-vines with thorns and their flowers come in colors ranging from bright red through shades of pink to cream, and white.

One interesting thing about their blossoms is that what most people regard as the Bougainvillea flower is actually a cluster of three flowers. In the picture, the two almost-white, star-shaped items are the flaring mouths of the "real flowers," which below the mouths are shaped like a slender bottle. The "real flowers" come in groups of three, though in that cluster you see only two. At the base of each "real flower" arises a broad, flat, red "bract," which is a leaf modified so that it draws a pollinator's attention to the flower cluster. Thus three "real flowers" and three red bracts make up what most people think of as the Bougainvillea "flower." At the left in the picture the three vertical, fingerlike items are three flowers in a group not yet open.

Two species of Bougainvillea, both native to Brazil, are commonly grown in the tropics worldwide. Bougainvillea spectabilis is up to 25 feet long with hairy stems and hooked spines, with bracts in various shades of red and orange, and sometimes white. Bougainvillea glabra is more compact, has purple or crimson bracts, and sometimes is pruned and grown as a shrub or potted plant.

Bougainvilleas are members of the Four-O'Clock Family, the Nyctaginaceae. They can be grown from cuttings.