The bougainvillea genus which belongs to the nyctaginaceae family consists of roughly 18 species that are native to South America. These vigorously-growing evergreens may blossom forth as a creeping vine or as a shrub, and are covered in hooked thorns. Their leaves are simple, alternating, ovate and narrow at the tips. Although people generally think that the spectacular colors of the bougainvillea plant come from the flowers themselves, they are actually tiny tubular white blossoms that develop in small clusters. These clusters, however, are surrounded by three to six brightly-hued bracts that come in shades of purple, pink, red, orange, and gold.