- The story behind the naming of the bougainvillaea started in 1766 with a three-year journey of discovery around the world, from which the woody vine of the four-o'clock family was brought home to France. This plant, which was named for the explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, is recognized by its inconspicuous flowers surrounded by brilliant red or purple bracts. Many people regard the bougainvillaea as the handsomest of subtropical vines. The plant is often cultivated in greenhouses but can be grown outdoors in the semi-tropical parts of the United States. Bougainville (1720-1811) was head of the first French naval forces to circumnavigate the world (1766-1769). He was accompanied on his journey by astronomers and naturalists who named the woody climbing plant Bougainvillaea in his honor. They visited Tahiti, the New Hebrides, and the Solomon Islands, the largest of which is named Bougainville after him.Bougainville served as aide-de-camp to General Louis de Montcalm in Canada during the French-Indian War and under Fran ois Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse in the American Revolution. Bougainville was a man of many interests and abilities. His two-volume work on integral calculus earned him a membership in the Institut de France. In later years, Napoleon made him a senator, count of the empire, and member of the Legion of Honor.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.