The American Begonia Society
The American Begonia Society is a horticultural society devoted to the promotion, cultivation, and study of begonias (plant family Begoniaceae). Begoniaceae is one of the largest flowering plant families with over 2050 different species and thousands of cultivars. Mature Begonia plant sizes range from a mere few inches high to over 12 feet high. The range of Begonia flowers, foliage colors, and sizes is incredibly diverse and spectacular.
Here’s a Fun growing tip for you:
Begonia bogneri can be grown on a mount! This Begonia sits on damp sphagnum moss covering the plaque, held in place with fishing line. Visit the Sept/Oct 2021 Begonian for the full story!
What are some oldest cultivars still in cultivation?
Many of the cultivars we enjoy today have a special history. B. ‘Erythrophylla’ was created in Germany in 1845! B. ‘Ricinifolia’ was created in England, 1847; an article in an early Begonian describes B. ‘Ricinifolia’ with leaves 10-15” across and deep pink blossoms forming huge bunches on its stalks. Read more about cultivar preservation.
Just who is Begonia named for?
Michel Bégon, Governor of the French Antilles, sent Father Charles Plumier, a French botanist to study flora in the West Indies. In 1689, Father Plumier described a small plant with succulent leaves that he named “begonia rosea flore, folio orbiculate”, meaning ,‘begonia with the color of a rose and round leaves’, in honor of Michel Bégon.
How many species are there?
There are over 2050 Begonia species described, and this list continues to grow. Begonia bangsamoro (Philippines), B. voluptuaria (Laos), and B. ahooensis (India) are three of these, and as are so many species across the world, considered to have a vulnerable conservation status.
Bullae: What is that?
Some begonias have a leaf surface with bullae (meaning blistered, bubbled, or puckered). B. ferox is an impressive example of a Begonia with this leaf characteristic. Ferox means fierce and refers to its fierce-looking leaves with very prominent bullae.