Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name : Bougainvillea glabra
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Genus: Bougainvillea
Species: B. glabra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Name: Bougainvillea

Habitat : Bougainvillea is native to Brazil.Bougainvillea carries several names in the different regions where it is expontaneously present. Apart from Rioplatense Spanish santa-rita and Peruvian Spanish papelillo, it may be variously named primavera, três-marias, sempre-lustrosa, santa-rita, ceboleiro, roseiro, roseta, riso, pataguinha, pau-de-roseira and flor-de-papel in Brazilian Portuguese. Nevertheless, buganvílea  in Portuguese and buganvilia  in Spanish are the most common names accepted by people of the regions where these languages are spoken but it is an introduced plant.

Bougainvillea is an evergreen, climbing woody vine. Tiny white flowers usually appear in clusters surrounded by colorful papery bracts, hence the name paper flower. Single and double flower forms are available. The woody trunk tends to be twisted and the thin stem have sharp thorns and dark green leaves. Bougainvilleas can be easily grown as a hedge, an arch or a tree on the ground and in pots. Bougainvilleas available in a variety of species, is ideal for bonsai.
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Bougainvillea may be grown from root cuttings and branch cuttings. Cuttings can propagate plants easily. Cuttings should be planted in a shady area until they form roots. The shoots, a few inches in length, can be replanted in sandy soil with bottom heat and moisture. Half-ripened or old woodcuttings in six to twelve inch lengths may be rooted April to June. Bougainvillea does best in dry conditions. They need full sunlight, warm weather and well drained soil to flower well.

The growth rate of bougainvilleas varies from slow to rapid, depending on the variety. They tend to flower all year round in equatorial regions. Elsewhere, they are seasonal, with bloom cycles typically four to six weeks. Bougainvilleas grow best in dry soil in very bright full sun and with frequent fertilization; but they require little water once established, and in fact will not flourish if over-watered. As indoor houseplants in temperate regions, they can be kept small by bonsai techniques. They can be easily propagated via tip cuttings.

Medicinal Uses:
Not known in the Philippines for any medicinal use.
– Traditional practitioners in Mandsaur use the leaves for a variety of disorders, for diarrhea, and to reduce stomach acidity.
– Used for cough and sore throat.
– For blood vessels and leucorrhea: a decoction of dried flowers, 10 g in 4 glasses of water.
– For hepatitis, a decoction of dried stems, 10 g in 4 glasses of water.
– In Panama, an infusion of the flowers of B. glabra used as treatment for low blood pressure.
– Nupe people of Niger use a crude extract of leaves for diabetes.

• Anti-ulcer / Anti-diarrheal / Anti-microbial: Leaves studied for antidiarrheal, anti-ulcer, and anti-microbial activities.

• Pinitol / Insulin-like effect: Pinitol, an active principle of the traditional antidiabetic plant B. spectabilis, is claimed to exert insulin-like effects. The study supported the view that D-pinnitol (3-O-methyl-chiroinositol) may exert an insulin-like effect to improve glycemic control in hypoinsulinemic STZ-diabetic mice. D- pinitol may act via a post-receptor pathway of insulin action affecting glucose uptake.

• Antibacterial: Study on various solvent extracts of Bougainvillea spectabilis leaves showed maximum inhibitory effect on tested bacteria (S aureus, B subtilis, S faecalis, Micrococcus luteus, E coli, P aeruginosa, S typhii, K pneumonia, P vulgaris, S marcescens, S flexneri.

• Antidiabetic: Study of B spectabilis aqueous and methanolic extracts showed good glucose tolerance and significantly reduced intestinal glucosidase activity, with regeneration of insulin-producing cells and increase in plasma insulin. Results suggest a potential for development of new neutraceutical treatment for diabetes.

• Amylase Inhibition: Study of the chloroform extract of B spectabilis showed significant alpha-amylase inhibitory property.

• Color and Bioactivity: Study of the methanolic extracts of B spectabilis flowers of five different colors, screened biologically on antibacterial, antifungal, brine shrimp lethality and phytotoxicity assays showed that the extract of the white flowers was the most biologically active.

• Anti-Fertility: Study showed the leaf extract showed adverse effects on male and female reproductive organs: male mice showed more degeneration of gonads in comparison to female mice, with decrease in total sperm count and titer of testosterone; extended the reproductive cycle of female mice by 1-2 days with prolonged metaestrus and decrease in serum estrogen.

• Antihyperlipidemic / D-pinitol: Study showed the antihyperlipidemic effect of D-pinitol in STZ-induced type 2 diabetic rats, with significant lowering of LDL and VLDL cholesterol levels and significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

• Radical Scavenging Activity: Study found the aqueous extracts of B spectabilis produced more free radical scavenging than B divaricata. Results were superior to common synthetic antioxidants used in the food industry and presents a potential for applications in pharmaceutical or alimentary preparations.

• Effects on Liver and Kidney Functions in Rats: Study of extracts showed dose-dependent decrease in potassium ion concentration, possibly a result of cellular uptake of glucose effected by pinitol which may be accompanied by cellular uptake of potassium ion. An observed decrease in serum calcium ion concentration may be the result of impaired intestinal absorption of calcium and/or impaired conversion of vitamin D to the active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Results suggest the repeated administration of B. spectabilis extract may compromise the integrity of kidney and liver.

• Antidiabetic / Root-Bark: Permanent hyperglycemia in alloxan-induced diabetic rats was reversed with a week’s treatment with an ethanol extract of root bark. In the study, no considerable signs of toxicity were observed in the albino Wistar rats.

• Natural Red Pigment: Study reported extraction of a red pigment with good solubility, light fastness, heat-resisting property, and good stability. The extraction is simple, the pigment reportedly non-toxic.

• Lipid-Lowering / Antiatherogenic: Study of alcoholic extract on albino rats fed with a high-fat diet showed an excellent lipid lowering potential, with significant reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, VLDL and a significant increase in HDL. There was also significant improvement in atherogenic index.

• Renal and Liver Effects: Study showed repeated administration of B. spetabilis may compromise the kidney and liver functions. There may also be ill-effects on patients with osteoporosis, renal diseases , and liver problems.

Other Uses:
Bougainvilleas are popular ornamental plants in most areas with warm climates.

Although it is frost-sensitive and hardy in U.S. Hardiness Zones 9b and 10, bougainvillea can be used as a houseplant or hanging basket in cooler climates. In the landscape, it makes an excellent hot season plant, and its drought tolerance makes it ideal for warm climates year-round. Its high salt tolerance makes it a natural choice for color in coastal regions. It can be pruned into a standard, but is also grown along fence lines, on walls, in containers and hanging baskets, and as a hedge or an accent plant. Its long arching thorny branches bear heart-shaped leaves and masses of papery bracts in white, pink, orange, purple, and burgundy. Many cultivars, including double-flowered and variegated, are available.

Many of today’s bougainvillea are the result of interbreeding among only three out of the eighteen South American species recognized by botanists. Currently, there are over 300 varieties of bougainvillea around the world. Because many of the hybrids have been crossed over several generations, it is difficult to identify their respective origins. Natural mutations seem to occur spontaneously throughout the world; wherever large numbers of plants are being produced, bud-sports will occur. This had led to multiple names for the same cultivar (or variety) and has added to the confusion over the names of bougainvillea cultivars.

Known Hazards:The sap of the Bougainvillea can cause skin rashes similar to Toxicodendron species.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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