Archive | 17 October 2013

Begonia hemsleyana: SPECIES TALK – MARCH MEETING


Begonia hemsleyana, Bot. Mag. 125: t. 7685 (1899).
Source: Curtis Botanical Magazine; Author: Hooker

Carmel Browne presented the Species Talk on 16 March 2013.

The area of distribution of this species extends from northern Burma to the Chinese province of Yunnan in moist, upland forests.

B. hemsleyana was introduced to Kew Gardens by way of seed collected in south Yunnan in 1899. It was named in honour of William Hemsley who worked on Chinese plants at Kew at that time.

B. hemsleyana is rhizomatous, jointed at or below the soil with erect stems. The leaf blade is palmately compound, glossy green, sparsely hairy between the veins, paler green beneath with a reddish tinge. The petioles are pink with short, woolly hairs. Flowers are pink and fragrant.

I chose to speak on this species today because this is only the second time it has flowered for me. It has been described as difficult. From my experiences, I have found it requires a cool, moist, well lit situation with good air movement. Because it naturally produces short, closely spaced stems, good air circulation is essential to keep fungal diseases at bay. A well-drained premium mix that is allowed to dry between waterings suits B. hemsleyana.

B. hemsleyana, B. rex, B. pedatifida and B. circumlobata are closely related and all belong to section Platycentrum. B. hemsleyana has been successfully crossed with Rex Cultorum begonias. B. ‘Raspberry Swirl’, B. ‘Picasso’ and B. ‘Hula Skirt’ are the results of such crossings. I do not know if these have ever been grown in Australia.

Begonia parilis: SPECIES TALK – APRIL MEETING


Begonia parilis

Photographed at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (Australia) in December.
Sourced from commons.wikimedia.org, this photo is originally from Gardenology.org.

Di Schulz presented the Species Talk on 20 April 2013.

The following was taken from a Begonian of 1968.

The stems and branches of B. parilis are soft and hairy. Its leaves are velvet-like in texture, olive-green, red at the margins and red flushed beneath. Flowers are pink or white.

From Know Your Begonias by J Krempin.

B. parilis was discovered in Brazil in 1953. It is known as the zig-zag begonia. It is thick-stemmed, grows to 1 metre with zig-zagged branches and medium, narrow, shining green leaves, red beneath. Arching clusters of white flowers with yellow stamens appear in summer.

Begonias: The Complete Reference Guide by Thompson & Thompson has this to say.

B. parilis is a versatile begonia that is attractive whether it is staked or not. Although this plant branches naturally, early pinching will produce an even fuller plant. It can be grown effectively in maximum sunlight according to the locale, or it can be grown in a semi-shady position, making an interesting foliage plant. However, it will only bloom when there is sufficient sunlight.