Tuesday, June 19, 2012

False Flowers

PH: This past week in Rome, we had the pleasure and the honor to visit the Vatican Gardens. The walk through was overwhelming with all the life and growth of the plants. I even got separated from the group because I was so hypnotized by the blooming flowers surrounding me. One plant that trapped my attention was the Bougainvillea crawling across the railing of the walkway. The huge mass was hard to miss with its bright lavender color overshadowing the green shrubbery around it.

Bougainvilleas are native to South America but can be grown and thrive in areas with a warm climate. This climber plant’s vibrant color comes not from the flower but from the modified leaves that surround it, called bracts.  The bracts can be pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. These modified leaves are paper thin and are normally in groups of three or six. The actual flower of the Bougainvillea is small and white and needs the help of the bracts to attract pollinators to the flower. The insects cannot overlook the Bougainvillea’s striking and bold color.

The complex and intricate mechanisms utilized by plants are just incredible. There is an endless amount of plants and unique characteristics to study and I want to learn as much as my brain will allow.   

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