Sunday, September 1, 2013

Theme: Pink

Over at the City Daily Photo portal, the theme for September 1 is "Pink". There was nothing much I could find in pink (okay, I didn't try hard enough), because Chennai wears yellow, especially with the Champions League T20 coming up later this month. 

But this old picture came to my rescue, and along with it, a story. Everyone knows this is the Bougainvilla; a plant so common here that it is difficult to believe it is an exotic species, having arrived from South America, possibly through French travellers. I say French, because even in the latter half of the 18th century, the French were optimistic enough about their chances in India - and it was a Frenchman, Philibert Commerçon, who is credited as being the first European to describe these flowers. He was the botanist on board an expedition to circumnavigate the world; it is not unusual that he named the flower after the expedition's leader, Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

But it is also said that the credit for first observing these plants should go to Jeanne Barét. She had sneaked aboard de Bougainville's ship dressed as a man, pretending to be her lover Commerçon's valet. And it was she who had brought these woody vines back from a field trip; Commerçon's contribution was in the naming. Jeanne's disguise was unmasked before the end of the expedition, but she did complete it - and thereby became the first woman to circumnavigate the world!

Hooray for pink!

Interested in more pink stuff? This is where you need to go today!

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