Bougainvillea glabra, the lesser bougainvillea or paperflower, is the most common species of bougainvillea used for bonsai. The epithet 'glabra' comes from Latin and means "bald". It is heat and drought tolerant and frost sensitive.
Bougainvillea glabra is an evergreen, climbing shrub with thorny stems. It usually grows 3-4m (10–12feet) tall, occasionally up to 9m (30 feet). Tiny white flowers usually appear in clusters surrounded by colorful papery bracts, hence the name paperflower. Bougainvillea glabra is native to Brazil growing in well drained sandy desert soils, slopes, mesas and disturbed rocky soil in a broad elevation range, anywhere from sea level to 750m (0-2500 feet). Its natural habitat is equatorial where day and night lengths are almost equal. Bougainvillea glabra in these areas tend to bloom year round. Elsewhere, best blooming occurs when the night length and day length are almost equal (in spring or fall).