Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea sp. (Nyctaginaceae)

Characteristics

The genera Bougainvillea contains 18 different species, all of them thorny ornamental vines, shrubs or trees. The flower-like inflorescence consists of large, colourful, sepal-like bracts (special leaves) which surround three simple waxy flowers. Leaves alternate. Bougainvillea is frost-sensitive and drought-tolerant, making it ideal for warm climates. Its high salt tolerance makes it highly adapted in coastal regions.

Distribution

Native to South America from Brazil to Peru to Argentina. Cultivated in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean regions around the world.

Natural Medical Properties

The plant contains pinitol, which is helpful in the treatment of non-insulin dependent diabetes.

A study of aqueous and methanolic extracts of the leaves has shown good glucose tolerance and significantly reduced intestinal glucosidase activity, with regeneration of insulin-producing cells and increase in plasma insulin.

Results suggest a potential for the development of new nutraceutical treatment for diabetes.

Did you know?

Many of today’s bougainvillea are the result of interbreeding among only three out of the genera’s eighteen species. Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species