The flower of the bougainvillea is my very favourite, especially when it’s in this incredible shade of hot pink, which also happens to be one of my favourite colours. There is no hotter pink than that of a hot pink bougainvillea flower, except, perhaps, the hot pink of a gharghra (long, flared skirt), choli (fitted blouse) and odhni (long shawl worn with one corner tucked into the skirt and the other over the head) of a Rajasthani woman!
One of the many small things that I love about India is that bougainvillea, its papery flowers in many glorious shades of pink, purple, orange, yellow, red and white, is everywhere. It grows in my country Australia, too, and also in parts of Africa, Asia and South, Central and North America, as well as the Indian subcontinent – it even grows in Switzerland.
Here’s an interesting story about the first European discovery of the bougainvillea that I read about in Wikipedia: it’s possible that the first European to notice these plants was a woman, Jeanne Bare, an assistant of the botanist who was accompanying the French navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville in the late 1700s. Miss Baré was an expert in botany herself, but because she wasn’t allowed on a ship as a woman, she had to disguise herself as a man to make the journey, and so became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe! Of course the Bougainvillea really should have been named the Baré…
Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh