My best Bougainvillea photo. See caption below.
Boo-zhaan-vee is how it should be said.
The islands of Hawaii are home to millions of Bougainvillea bushes, commonly called Bouganvilla, Bougainvillea or Bougainville. They sit in varying hues of deep pink, magenta, purple, white or coral pink. The flowers themselves are white, tiny, and have no scent. Yet these tiny flowers clothed in blousy colors lure the human soul to the shores of Hawaii like a fluid mirage on a desert oasis. The colorful blooms are not flowers. Three colorful paper-like bracts surround each little white floweret. These vines of lush colors are members of the tropical family Nyctaginaceae. The sturdy vines can be guided and trimmed to grow as potted plants and petite bushes or they can be persuaded by water, sun and fertilizer to become 20’ hedges.
Up Close and Personal.
Where did this plant originate?
The Bougainvillea origins are in South America, specifically from Brazil, west to Perú and south to southern Argentina. Bougainvillea is now found in many tropical or semi-tropical countries and it is known by names local to those countries.
The plant requires full sun for five or more hours per day. Once its root system is established, it does not require much water. There are many beautiful kinds of Bougainvillea. The hardiest and most popular can be ordered from local nurseries. With a slightly green thumb, cuttings can be propagated for free, no nurseries required. Here are a few names of the better-known varieties: Vickie, Bouganvillea Deep Purple, Texas Pink, Juanita Hatten, Barbara Karst, Jamaica White, Sundown, Texas Dawn, Double Pink, and Surprise.
A Fascinating Book about a Fascinating Lady
It was Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (notice the correct spelling of his name) a naval commander from France, who discovered – or perhaps co-discovered – this marvelous botanical delight. There is a new book on this very subject. It is entitled , The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe. The author of the book is Glynis Ridley Crown.
In 1766, Monsieur Bougainville set out to circumnavigate our globe. A naturalist, Monsieur Commerson, accompanied the naval commander. Also onboard, unbeknownst to most of the crew, was a woman, Jeanne Baret. She was disguised as a young man. She endured much hardship on the voyage. The book sets out to document the probability that it was Ms. Baret, not the ship’s naval officer, Bougainville, who discovered the vine. I am looking forward to obtaining a copy of this book and reading it.
Just a Little Gentle Joshing
I submit to you that whether Bougainville deserved credit for the discovery of the tropical plant bearing his name – or not – he did not pronounce the plant’s newly given name in a guttural English. The Free Online Dictionary defines guttural as “Of or relating to the throat. Having a harsh grating quality, as certain sounds produced in the back of the mouth.” I have never heard a person on the Hawaiian Islands correctly pronounce this colorful plant’s name. I am not of French descent nor do I hold any sway among the locals, so I do not argue the point orally. But each time I hear the name Bougainvillea or Bougainville spoken with the letter ‘g’ as a hard consonant (such as in the word goat) I cannot help but re-pronounce the word in my own mind.
A Frenchman, when saying the name Bougainville or Bougainvillea (either way) would pronounce the letter ‘g’ as a soft ‘j’ as in the word 'genre'. As for the two L’s in the name, if a French person is saying Bougainville, he would not pronounce the letter ‘L’ at all. He would say, in effect, “Boo – jon – vee.” Captain Louis-Antoine de Bougainville would have said his own name with pride and the correct French accent! He did not name the plant in honor of an Englishman.
There are more than 80 colors and varieties of Bougainvillea available in the United States.
Botanical information for this hub has been gleaned from an internet article titled, Growing Bouganvilleas, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/bougainvillea.html. Information about the new book which sheds light on the discovery of the plant now called Bougainvillea or Bougainville was obtained from a newspaper article in The Maui News, December 2010, a book review, entitled: Discovering a Remarkable Woman who hid from History. The newspaper article was written by Douglas K. Daniel.
The slight irritation regarding the mispronunciation of a Frenchman’s name is entirely my own. The French pronunciation of the name Bougainvillea enjoys a romantic, lovely glide over the tongue – and so, too, does Bougainville. Jeanne Baret? Oui. Baret, also.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2011 Pamela Dapples
Pamela Dapples (author) from Arizona. on August 04, 2014:
You are the creme de la creme. (I don't know how to put the accents over the eee's.) Thank you, Au fait.
C E Clark from North Texas on August 03, 2014:
Love these flowers and your photos are so pretty! Love the photo of the flowers with the palms behind them. Ever since I saw my first palm I have loved them. Same with mountains, and a combination of palms and mountains would be perfect.
Voted up, BAI, pinned to my 'Pink II' board, and will share with followers.
Pamela Dapples (author) from Arizona. on June 25, 2012:
That's a good shortcut. No mispronunciation there! Thanks for reading.
Charles Dawson from Bartow, FL on June 25, 2012:
My favorite author, Dean Koontz, always finds a way to mention these flowers in his books. When I read it, I just say "BV" in my mind. Ha!
Pamela Dapples (author) from Arizona. on January 11, 2011:
Thank you, Cheeky Girl. Your profile page is great! Such a list of interesting hubs you've written!
Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on January 11, 2011:
These are beautiful. I wish I had a space to grow these. And the climate too! Great hub!
Kim Lynn on January 05, 2011:
Interesting info about bougs, which is what we call them here in Florida. Enjoyed the history.
Pamela Dapples (author) from Arizona. on January 04, 2011:
Thank you, Mentalist acer.
Sandralee007,yes, I remember well the beauty of Butchart Gardens. I will look at your work at Amysplaythings.etsy.com. Thanks for dropping by.
Sandralee007 from Vancouver Island,West Coast, B.C.,Canada on January 04, 2011:
Bougainville grows here in Victoria, too! Especially beautiful at the Butchart Gardnens along the trellis between the Itanlienne Gardens and the Snack shop! Come visit us soon! And also see my work at Amysplaythings.etsy.com
Mentalist acer from A Voice in your Mind! on January 04, 2011:
A beautiful plant for a beautiful island,no matter how it's pronounced,lol,thanks for sharing,Pamela;)