71 (January/February 2004)
by Normand Dufresne
Begonia chitoensis was published in 1977 by
Tang-Shui Liu and Ming-Jou Lai. The original citation appeared in
Flora of Taiwan, Volume 3, page 793. It was collected in Chitou,
Nantou on the island of Taiwan. Ming-Jou Lai also collected this species
in Pahsien-Shan, in Taichung, also on Taiwan. Liu and Lai named it B.
chitoensis for Chitou.
B. chitoensis first came to America in January
1984 by way of seeds, which were sent to Millie Thompson by Yi-Shan
Shui, a horticulturist who lived on Taiwan. She sent seeds of several
species that grow on that island.
Taiwan is off the Southeast coast of China. Nantou and
Taichung arc near the middle part of the island. Summers are hot and humid
and winters are warm to hot. Rainfall is 40 or more inches annually with
much more rainfall and lower temperatures in the mountainous areas.
|Above is the editor's B. chitoensis grown
outside in Arkansas with an inset of its flower magnified. Below is
B. chitoensis grown by Gene Salisbury in his greenhouse in a
photo taken by Midori Nobusawa in 2000.|
B. chitoensis is a rhizomatous begonia with
erect stems. In the early stages there is a creeping rhizome and as the
plant matures the erect branching stems appear. It is said that these
stems can grow to two feet in the wild.
The ovate medium green leaves are on a long petiole
and measure 8 by 5 inches; the base is cordate - heart shape with a small
overlap. The leaf margin is denticulate - finely toothed. There are eight
to ten main veins.
The flowers are brilliant pink. The male flower has
four tepals; the outer tepals are larger than the inner tepals. The female
flower has five tepals. The ovary is three-winged and the back wing is
much wider. Bloom time starts in June and ends in October.
Filtered sunlight is preferred in the summer; in
winter the amount of light should be increased. Millie Thompson says that
the ideal temperature for this plant is between 58 and 62 degrees with
humidity at 55%.
|This article first appeared in The
newsletter of the Buxton Branch edited by Jane Snellman. The
lovely drawing is by Buxton member Jeanne Marie