The 3 species of Bougainvillea seen here are B. spectabilis and B. glabra (both weeds and described elsewhere) and B. peruviana.
These will grow as a shrub or a vine scrambling over other vegetation and structures.
It is a more sparse open plant than the other two species with greenish bark on the stems.
The short thin thorns may be straight on young stems but are mostly curved.
The ovate leaves have no hairs.
The roughly round bracts are light to dark magenta, pink or red and the flowers are cream.
Bougainvillea x buttiana.
A naturally occurring hybrid of B. glabra and B. peruviana it is a parent in many or most of the cultivars.
B. x buttiana will grow as a dense ground cover or a scrambling vine up to 5 m high.
The stems have short straight thorns.
The wide ovate to cordate (heart-shaped) leaves are dark green with a few hairs on the midrib of both surfaces.
The dense inflorescences have small round dark red and magenta to pink bracts and white flowers.
The over 300 cultivars are naturally occurring mutations or crosses between the 3 species and B. x buttiana.
These hybrids may then be crossed back with any of the parents.
These cultivars may then be crossed back resulting in a complex and often unknown parentage.
Many cultivars are not registered or patented meaning there is no really accurate description of them especially the colours.
Fully documented plants will have the colours described by reference to the Royal Horticultural Society colour chart which has 73 colours.
The RHS guide has around 11 purple-violets so saying the bracts are ‘purple’ does not help differentiate them when there are so many similar cultivars.
Another problem with identification is that a lot are known by 2 or 3 different names.
Also the colour of the bracts may change as the flower ages.
Cultivars can be ground covers, shrubs, scramblers or climbing vines up to 25 m high.
There are dwarf plants from 15 cm up to 1 m high.
Leaves can be plain green or variegated with white, cream or pink.
Double flowers have the stamens and ovary replaced by bracts that are spread out along a short stem.
There are plants with bi-coloured bracts and some with no thorns.
Bract colours include many shades of red, purple, pink, magenta, yellow and orange as well as white.