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In 1768, a French botanist and naturalist called Philibert Commerson had discovered the Bougainvillea in Rio de Janeiro. He named it after Louis Antoine, Comte de Bougainville, who was his shipmate and friend. He was also the French Navy admiral. Though Bougainvillea flowers are commonly found now, they are native Caribbean islands and South American flowers. You will see these vibrant red and pink flowers mostly in warm climates, like Greece, California, Australia, India, etc.

The bougainvillea is a member of the Nyctaginaceae family. Bougainvillea plants can grow up to 40 feet (ca. 12 m) tall and their vines grow quite quickly too. These plants are useful for decorating the fences and exterior walls of buildings. Have you seen photos of Greek retreats where these pink, purple and red flowers against the white buildings make you long for a vacation there? An interesting fact of these plants is that the flowers are not pink or red, the flowers are white. The leaves of these plants have different colors because they have a magenta tract. The flowers that are most commonly seen are hybrids of two species, namely – Bougainvillea glabra and Bougainvillea spectabilis.

Bougainvillea flower meaning – What do these flowers symbolize?

Bougainvilleas grow like vines or in small shrubs during summer. The stems of these plants are long like spikes, and they get covered with colorful leaves with a paper-like texture. As mentioned previously, places like South America and Caribbean Islands turn beautiful with these white, golden, pink, etc. blooms.

During the Victorian Age, people used flowers to send across their messages, which they were unable to express verbally for whatever reasons. They developed ‘Floriography’ aka ‘the language of flowers.’ The system of dictionary of flowers was formed, and each flower was given a meaning. These meanings were accepted by all and even today sending a particular flower, of a particular color, has certain specific meanings attached.

Bougainvillea flower meaning is not limited to one. The plant with its long vines, few spikes hidden between delicate blooms, is linked with passion. This is why the Bougainvillea is represented on the Lovers Card in a traditional deck of Tarot cards. The flowers stand for both woeful and joyful passion. It was believed that if you wanted to make your relationship more passionate, you should give a bougainvillea stem to your beloved.

Victorian people believed that these flowers are also a symbol of life experiences and enthusiasm. The other Bougainvillea flower meaning or meanings are – peace, to cordially invite visitors, and supporting two organizations or individuals to freely enter trading with each other.

What do the various colors of the Bougainvillea flower mean?

The bougainvillea plants have paper-like leaves arising out of colorful bracts, and they come in various colors like white, pink, red, orange, purple, and yellow. The actual bougainvillea flowers are nondescript and white. A flower of any color symbolizes a trait or traits which are different from the other colors. According to the language of flowers, each color carries a different message. Read on to know what a bougainvillea flower meaning can be, based on its color. We have focused on the colors most commonly seen or found :

bougainvillea shubra - Google Search | Bougainvillea colors, Garden vines,  Bougainvillea

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White – The color white is synonymous with purity. Like any white flower, a white bougainvillea can also signify peace, elegance, humbleness, honesty, and perfection. You can give it to your beloved to express your thoughtfulness and love. White flowers are also given to a respected person to express admiration. You can convey sincere feelings through white bougainvillea bloom.

Bougainvillea | Better Homes & Gardens

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Pink – Pink is a color for lovers. You can give pink bougainvillea to your lover to show your passionate love. Dark pink flowers like bougainvillea with dark pink leaves stand for appreciation and thankfulness, the light pink ones are symbols of tenderness, admiration, fineness, grace, and confidence. You can give pink bougainvillea to your mother on Mother’s Day or her birthday.

Bougainvillea Colorful Blossoms - Free photo on Pixabay

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Purple – Purple flowers can be given to show your wonderment at someone’s achievement. It is a very royal color and has been long associated with aristocracy, success, dignity, faith, and refinement. Purple bougainvillea can also mean each of these things.

Photo of the bloom of Bougainvillea 'Bengal Orange' posted by TooCoys -

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Orange – A bright color, orange represents enthusiasm, confidence, desire, satisfaction, and passion for life. Orange bougainvillea can also mean strong love and success.

The Vibrant Bougainvillea – homegardeningph

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Yellow – Yellow bougainvillea look cheerful. They, like other yellow flowers, stand for new beginnings, clarity, and friendship. You can give yellow bougainvillea to show your appreciation to someone. You can give them to any friend, as yellow is a color of friendship. It is a safe choice to give others because not many know yellow stands for jealousy and betrayal too.


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Red – This is a courageous color that represents love and passion. Bougainvillea flower and the color red carry the same meaning – igniting the flame of love and passion. Red bougainvillea is ideal for a romantic partner. You can express how deeply in love you are or attracted to someone by giving deep red bougainvillea.

Interesting facts and characteristics of the Bougainvillea flower

  • Bougainvillea belongs to the category of approximately 15 vines, shrubs, and small tree species.
  • What we think to be papery flowers are the bracts, i.e. modified leaves.
  • The real bougainvillea flowers are tiny and white.
  • Bougainvillea is known as ‘Puti Tai Nobiu’ in the United States Territory of Guam, and this phrase means that ‘It hurts to have no boyfriend’. Bougainvillea is the state flower of this region.
  • It is also Grenada’s national flower and numerous institutions, hotels and streets have been named after it. It is also present on the coat of arms.

The Best time to gift someone Bougainvillea Flowers

Bougainvillea flowers or plants make ideal gifts for different occasions. You can put them in any floral arrangement or bouquet. According to the language of flowers, the bougainvillea flower meaning is passion. So if you are planning to go on a date with the special person in your life, put bougainvillea in a bouquet and gift it to them. Even the Victorians believed that if you are giving bougainvillea to your lover, it means you want to ignite the passion between you two.

The colorful bracts of the Bougainvillea plant make any floral gift look bright and stunning. As bougainvillea are also symbols of peace, welcoming visitors, and free trade. So you can also gift them inappropriate situations. When you give someone flowers, the recipient will decode the message based on the color of the flowers you send.