Bougainvillea Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Bougainvillea Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Bougainvillea plants are renowned for their spectacularly bright and colorful foliage. Thanks to their grace, beauty, and elegance, flowers have long been a popular choice for tattoos and the bougainvillea is no different. Its symbolic meaning varies around the world, but it has been known to represent welcome, passion, peace, and beauty.

If you want a floral tattoo that can be drawn to suit any part of the body and is infused with many meanings, this tattoo might be right for you.

This article outlines the history of the bougainvillea tattoo and lists all its possible meanings. You will also read about the plant itself and all the ways in which people tend to get them tattooed on their bodies.

What is the Bougainvillea?

There are up to 18 species in the bougainvillea genus, which is a type of thorny ornamental vine. Its flowers are very small and usually white.


The colorful ‘petals’ that characterize bougainvillea plants are not actually flowers but a set of three leaves called ‘bracts’ that grow around each flower.

These plants are native to the eastern regions of South America including parts of Brazil, Peru, and southern Argentina. However, today you can find them growing throughout the world in the tropics and sub-tropical areas.

Bougainvillea is a hardy vine and they use their strong stalks and thorns to grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) over the top of other plants. Today, they are popular ornamental plants in gardens throughout the world.

The History of the Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea was known throughout southern America for as long as the region had been occupied. However, the first European to describe the plants was botanist Philibert Commerçon, who named it after his ship’s admiral Loius Antoine de Bougainville.


It took several hundred years before other Europeans were able to see the plant for themselves and by the 19th century, they were prominent fixtures in nurseries in Britain and France and even far-flung colonies like Australia.

When did Bougainvillea Tattoos Become Popular?

Flowers have been inked onto human skin for as long as people have been getting tattoos. Through their symbolism and beauty, they have always played a role in shaping an individual’s identity.

Bougainvillea tattoos grew in regard during the 20th century, thanks largely to the rise of women getting tattoos. Traditionally, women have been more likely to get floral tattoos because they have feminine connotations. However, today there are a growing number of men who choose to get floral tattoos as well.

What Does Bougainvillea Tattoo Symbolize?

Flowers have long been infused with meaning, from love, birth, unity, connection, and growth, to beauty, the feminine, and constancy. This is known as the ‘Language of Flowers’, and every flower has its own individual meaning.


The Bougainvillea is associated with the positive concepts of welcome, passion, and peace. It is popular throughout the world and has been adopted as a symbol for many territories and cities in Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States, China, and Japan. It is the national flower of Grenada and Guam.

The plant is also associated with the following meanings:

Having a pioneering spirit

The first European person to set eyes on the Bougainvillea plant was likely a woman named Jeanne Baret. She was a botanist who circumnavigated the Earth with French Navy admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1789.

Jeanne had to disguise herself as a man to be allowed on the ship, and hers is a wonderful story of tenacity, strength, and the pioneering spirit.

Symbols of home

People may choose this type of flower tattoo because they have a special connection to southern America, where it is a native plant, or perhaps even Guam or Grenada where it is the national flower.


Free Trade

With associations of friendship, peace, and welcoming, bougainvillea plants are also excellent symbols of free trade and harmony between people, cities, and places.

The friendliness of a warm welcome

In Hawaii, bougainvillea plants are known as pua kepalo, or the ‘devil flower’. Despite its name, it is widely used to make garlands to welcome visitors and in celebrations.


The passion that comes from an achieved goal or a deep kinship with another person is represented by this plant. It is a great symbol of attachment between two people, who might choose to get matching bougainvillea tattoos.


As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the bougainvillea symbolizes a person’s attachment to and appreciation of beautiful things.

What Do Bougainvillea Colours Symbolize?

Bougainvillea plants are renowned for their dazzling variety of colors, each of which has the following specific meanings:


Pink is traditionally associated with femininity, cuteness, sensitivity, and romance. A pink bougainvillea is a beautiful symbol of first love and innocence.



Violet represents glamor, spiritual passion, inspiration, and loveliness. Violet-colored tattoos represent a person’s confidence in themselves and their abilities to achieve their goals in life.


Yellow is one of the most powerful colors in nature, representing the renewing strength of the sun. It is also connected to intellect, positivity, clarity of thought, and protection. If you have a yellow bougainvillea tattoo, you are championing positive thought, intelligence, and protection against evil.


Purple has long been a symbol of royalty and affluence. A purple bougainvillea tattoo is a way to symbolize high-minded thoughts and lofty aspirations.

How Do People Usually Get Bougainvillea Tattoos?

Asymmetrical plants like such as these are great along the central portion of your body, including your neck, back, chest, and stomach, where they can shine as the most prominent image on your body.

The plant grows as a long vine and it can be inked snaking its way along one of your limbs.

Flowers are complicated organisms and it can be challenging for tattoo artists to show off their fine botanical details. For some, the best way is to have a black and white line drawing, with a minimum of shading.


However, for others, the flowers’ beauty comes from their glorious array of colors and they are inked with bold, beautiful designs and vivid shading.

So, is This Tattoo Right for You?

All flowers are imbued with meaning, so you’ll be best served to find which flower best suits you and which you find most attractive.

The Bougainvillea plant tattoo can symbolize many things, including welcome, passion, peace, and beauty, as well as friendliness, free trade, and passion. If you’re the type of person with a pioneering spirit and appreciation of beautiful things, this might be the tattoo for you!


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