Bougainvillea hybrid

Tamar Levine/UCLA

You probably recognize this viney plant. These particular beauties are located at the southwest corner of Rolfe Hall. “What’s interesting about bougainvillea is that it’s spiny. If we look underneath the branches, we see thorns,” Dollase says. “These thorns are rather small at the branch ends, but as we go along the branch, they get bigger and bigger.” What’s up with that? Well, those thorns are actually modified branches, he explains, and they grow from what are called axillary buds.

The bougainvillea has one other interesting point: “Here you would think the colorful things are the petals. They are not. They are called bracts, and they are modified leaves that have coloration to attract pollinators. But the flower itself is that tiny little white bloom in the middle of the bracts.”

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