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Category Archives: bracts


Common name: Poinsettia, Christmas plant, Lobster plant

This species of Euphorbiaceae has one thing in common. The degeneration of flowers. The flowers are rounded in the centre and almost look as buds. What makes the plant attractive are the bracts or modified leaves which are a lovely red colour.

Botanical name: Euphorbia pulcherrima    Family: Euphorbiaceae (castor family)

The species name – pulcherrima – means beautiful.  As the plant adds a lot of color and beauty to a garden.

The picture is of bunched poinsettia plants kept at the Horticulture exhibition, Necklace Road.

Silver Vase Bromeliad

Daiv of Cactiguide helped me identify this plant.

Aechmea fasciata is also known as the silver vase bromeliad. It is an epiphytic bromeliad which is native to Brazil. It has vase-shaped rosettes of silver-green leaves.  It is about 2 ft  tall, has silver-green leaves and an inflorescence made of pink bracts and tiny blue and red flowers. ( Almost looks like the matchstick flower that I saw at Mysore).  This plant is commonly grown indoors.

Picture taken at Nong Nooch Gardens, Thailand.

Info – and

Moses in the Cradle – Rhoeo Dwarf

Common name: Moses in the Cradle, Oysterplant, Boatlily, Moses-in-a-boat

A succulent herb with cluster of 6-12 swordlike leaves arising from a trunk like stem.  The leaves are green on top and purple/violet  below. The small white three-petaled flowers are hidden purple bracts .

It is known as ‘Nargis’, in the city of Hyderabad!! Nargis, is associated with the eye in Persian, and it is thought that the name was given because the boat shaped bracts with the white flower in the middle looks like the eye.  Interesting!

Botanical name: Tradescantia spathacea    Family: Commelinaceae (Dayflower family)

Photographed at R’s house, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.

And the third picture on the left taken by Sa.


Common name: Bougainvillea, Lesser Bougainvillea

This common climber found over fences was named after the French navigation Louis de Bougainvillea who discovered the climber in Brazil.  As a child, I saw the flowers only in pink and white.  These days they are found in bright colours of so many hues.  It has sharp thick thorns and therefore not attacked by cattle, goats or birds.  




The actual flower is small and generally white.  Clusters of three flowers are surrounded by either three or six colourful bracts of various colours – in this case – pink.  The flower is also known as paper flower, since the bracts are papery and thin.

The climber is found everywhere.  On a walk in the KBR park, Hyderabad, in summer, when most trees were stark and leafless, we were so happy to see flowers on an otherwise leafless tree.  On closer look, we found that the bougainvillea had crept up the tree, and it looked beautiful.


Botanical name: Bougainvillea glabra       Family: Nyctaginaceae (Bougainvillea family).

Stamp –

Snow Bush

In a vacant unkempt plot in Secunderabad, this shrub was indeed a sight for sore eyes. I wish I could have got closer for a better picture.

Common name – Snow Bush, Pascuita, Snows of Kilimanjaro, White Small Leaf Poincettia, Snow Flake, White-laced euphorbia.

Snow Bush is a spreading shrub . In winter it produces a mass of creamy white bracts which make the flower-heads appear like white poinsettia.  Actual flowers are small, greenish yellow, fragrant and attract butterflies. 

 Flowering: November-December

Botanical name: Euphorbia leucocephala    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)


I always thought this shrub belonged to the Poinsettia family.  I now know better.  Picture taken at Shilparamam, Hyderabad. Now read on…

The mussaenda is an evergreen shrub related to coffee trees and native to Asia. It may be a rather small shrub, or large to 30 feet, like a small tree. It has silky, hairy, soft medium-green leaves. The plant’s color comes from bracts and not the small, often yellow, white or orange, flowers at the center of each bract. Bracts may be seen in several colors including rose, white, red, pale pink and some mixtures.

Botanical name: Mussaenda erythophylla Family: Rubiaceae (coffee family)
Info- Flowers of India.

Crown of Thorns

This plant originated in Madagascar.  Considered a cousin of poinsettia!  This plant is interesting because it is one of the few succulents that actually have leaves. They are available in a range of flower colors, including red, orange, yellow, and a bicolor—pink and blush. 

As in Poinsettia, what appears to be flowers are actually bracts ranging from red to yellow.  The true blooms are tiny ( yellow in this picture).

  Botanical name: Euphorbia spp.    Family: Euphorbiaceae (castor family).

Picture taken at Shilparamam, Hyderabad.

 Information – and

Lobster Claw

Common name: Lobster claw, Hanging heliconia

In an untended garden outside a friend’s home , Hyderabad, was this bright Lobster Claw.  What at apt name!

Heliconia rostrata has a pendent inflorescence, the bracts are red with greenish yellow edges. Each bract resembles a lobster’s claw, hence the common name. The mature plant normally starts to flower in the summer. The flowers last a long time and make an excellent cut flower. It is an easy grower in tropical areas but some room is required because the stalks can reach 7 feet in height.

Botanical name: Heliconia rostrata    Family: Heliconiaceae (heliconia family)

Red Ginger


Picture taken at a friend’s farm in Shamirpet, Hyderabad.

Red Ginger –  also called Ostrich Plume and Pink Cone Ginger, are native Malaysian plants with showy flowers on long brightly colored red bracts. They look like the bloom, but the true flower is the small white flower on top

Botanical name: Alpinia purpurata    Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger family)