Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants native to South America. Different authors accept between 4 and 18 species in the genus. The name comes from Louis Antoine de Bougainville, an admiral in the French Navy who discovered the plant in Brazil in 1768. They are thorny, woody, vines growing anywhere from 1-12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants with their hooked thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4-13 cm long and 2-6 cm broad. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colors associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as "paper flower" because the bracts are thin and papery. The fruit is a narrow five-lobed achene. Bougainvillea are relatively pest-free plants, but may suffer from worms and aphids. The larvae of some Lepidoptera species also use them as food plants, for example the Giant Leopard Moth. Bougainvilleas are popular ornamental plants in most areas with warm climates. Numerous cultivars and hybrids have been selected, including nearly thornless shrubs. Some Bougainvillea cultivars are sterile, and are propagated from cuttings. Bougainvillea are rapid growing and flower all year in warm climates, especially when pinched or pruned. They grow best in moist fertile soil. Bloom cycles are typically four to six weeks. Bougainvillea grow best in very bright full sun and with frequent fertilization, but the plant requires little water to flower. As indoor houseplants in temperate regions, they can be kept small by bonsai techniques. If overwatered, Bougainvillea will not flower and may lose leaves or wilt, or even die from root decay.
Honeysuckles (Lonicera) are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, with by far the greatest diversity in China, where over 100 species occur; by comparison, Europe and North America have only about 20 native species each. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum (European Honeysuckle), Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle, White Honeysuckle, or Chinese Honeysuckle) and Lonicera sempervirens (Coral Honeysuckle, Trumpet Honeysuckle). Hummingbirds are attracted to these plants. Lonicera periclymenum The leaves are opposite, simple oval, 1–10 cm long; most are deciduous but some are evergreen. Many of the species have sweetly-scented, bell-shaped flowers that produce a sweet, edible nectar. Breaking of the Honeysuckle's stem will release this powerful sweet odor. The fruit is a red, blue or black berry containing several seeds; in most species the berries are mildly poisonous, but a few (notably Lonicera caerulea) have edible berries. The plant is eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. Honeysuckles grow best in partial sun to partial shade. Lonicera japonica and Lonicera maackii are considered invasive weeds in the United States. Honeysuckle is also edible; removing the blossom, one may suck at the sweet nectar in the center. Honeysuckle flowers can be used to flavor wine, syrup, sorbet, and other sweet dishes.
Wisteria is a genus of about ten species of woody climbing vines native to the eastern United States and the East Asian states of China, Korea, and Japan. Wisteria vines climb by twining their stems either clockwise or counter-clockwise round any available support. They can climb as high as 20 m above ground and spread out 10 m laterally. The world's largest known Wisteria vine is located in Sierra Madre, California, measuring more than an acre in size and weighing 250 tons. The leaves are alternate, 15 to 35 cm long, pinnate, with 9 to 19 leaflets. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 10 to 80 cm long, similar to those of the genus Laburnum, but are purple, violet, pink or white, not yellow. Flowering is in the spring (just before or as the leaves open) in some Asian species, and in mid to late summer in the American species and W. japonica. The flowers of some species are fragrant, most notably Chinese Wisteria. The seeds are produced in pods similar to those of laburnum, and, like that genus, are poisonous.
The genus was named after Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761 - 1818), a professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania. As a consequence, the name is sometimes given as "Wistaria", but the spelling Wisteria is conserved under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Wisteria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail. It is also an extremely popular ornament in China and Japan. Wisteria, especially Wisteria sinensis, is very hardy and fast-growing. It is considered an invasive species in certain areas. It can grow in fairly poor-quality soils, but prefers fertile, moist, well-drained ones. It thrives in full sun to partial shade. Wisteria can be propagated via hardwood cutting, softwood cuttings, or seed. However, seeded specimens can take decades to bloom; for that reason, gardeners usually grow plants that have been started from rooted cuttings or grafted cultivars known to flower well. Another reason for failure to bloom can be excessive fertilizer (particularly nitrogen). Wisteria has nitrogen fixing capability (provided by Rhizobia bacteria in root nodules), and thus mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen. Finally, wisteria can be reluctant to bloom because it has not reached maturity. Maturation may require only a few years, as in Kentucky Wisteria, or nearly twenty, as in Chinese Wisteria. Maturation can be forced by physically abusing the main trunk, root pruning, or drought stress. Wisteria can grow into a mound when unsupported, but is at its best when allowed to clamber up a tree, pergola, wall, or other supporting structure. Whatever the case, the support must be very sturdy, because old wisteria can grow into immensely strong and heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems. These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees. Its pendulous racemes are best viewed from below. Wisteria flowers develop in buds near the base of the previous year's growth, so pruning back side shoots to the basal few buds in early spring can enhance the visibility of the flowers. If it is desired to control the size of the plant, the side shoots can be shortened to between 20 and 40 cm long in mid summer, and back to 10 to 20 cm in the fall. The flowers of some varieties are edible, and can even be used to make wine. Others are said to be toxic.