SoundEagle translates from Indonesian into English:
Begonia that can be found in West Sumatra (photo: naturasumatrana)
Begonia, which is beautiful and Efficacious
Single Nawa | Kompas.com, 29 April 2013
A total of 313 species of begonia collection in the Eka Karya Bedugul Botanical Garden, Bali, has now become the most comprehensive in the world and easily enjoyed in a begonia garden measuring 700 square meters. The begonia is the only plant with asymmetrical leaves, as well as an ornamental plant that has not been much observed. Begonia (Begoniaceae) as an ornamental plant in Indonesia is not yet popular. However, this plant is in great demand in several countries to the extent that many associations are formed by begonia fans,” said Hartutiningsih, a begonia researcher at the Center for Plant Conservation at the Bogor Botanical Garden, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), beginning in April 2013, at the Eka Karya Bedugul Botanical Garden, Bali.
Specific characteristics of the leaf blade that is asymmetrical (begoniifolia) is one of the exotic traits of begonias, in addition to the forms and colours. Begonias in nature grow wild in watery habitats near rivers. Various types of begonias are also easily found around waterfalls. Begonia diversity in the world is estimated to be 1,600 species, distributed in the tropics and subtropics. According to Hartutiningsih, there are more than 200 types of begonias in Indonesia. There are 15 types of natural begonia known in Java; Sumatra (35), Borneo (40), Sulawesi (20) and Papua (70). Begonias in nature grow in different altitudes ranging from humid tropical forests on the plains to mountains 2,400 meters above sea level.
The begonia collection in Eka Karya began in 2001. Taking an eight-year effort to create, this collection of the Botanical Garden cultivated at an elevation of 1,250 meters above sea level is the most complete in the world. “We did not declare the collection of begonias to be the most comprehensive in the world,” said Hartutiningsih. Based on the writings of Hoover (2008) at the World Center of Begonia, the Botanical Garden of Bali has the most comprehensive begonia collection in the world. In Eka Karya, the begonia collection started from only five species. For the sake of increasing the number of collections, among others, explorations of a number of island flora and seed exchanges with other botanical gardens have been conducted between this botanical garden and Jardin Botanic Garden (BG), France; Glassgow BG, Scotland; Queen Sirikit BG, Thailand; BG Tubingen, Germany; American Begonia Society Tonkawa, United States, and New England Tropical Conservatory, England.
From 313 begonias collected, there is a division into 100 types of natural begonias and 213 types of exotic begonias as a result of crossing. Additional collection occurred in the 2006-2009 period of exploration on the islands of Sulawesi and Papua. In Papua, the exploration was done in the West Batanta Island Nature Reserve, Raja Ampat, West Papua. Resulting from scientific descriptions, there are now 20 hitherto unknown new species being published in international journals. There are still many other types that have not been scientifically described. Crossbreeding research was also conducted to produce a new type of begonia with attractive physical appearance and better than its parent, unique, and has stronger endurance. Cross-breeding is done by cross-pollination. Begonias are generally self-pollinated.
In 2005, Hartutiningsih crossed Begonia acetosa and Begonia listada. The new cultivar is named Begonia Tuti-Siregar. “Tuti” is the new name coined by Hartutiningsih, while “Siregar” is the name of her husband, Mustaid Siregar, the head of the Bogor Botanical Garden. This new cultivar has been registered in the American Begonia Society. Crosses continued to be created in 2007, from female flowers of Begonia puspitae and male flowers of Begonia pasamanensis, producing Begonia Lovely-Jo. Its leaves are uniquely egg-shaped like dilated hearts (of love), asymmetrical, light green and hairless. This new kind of begonia has received Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Rights from the Centre for Plant Variety Protection and Licensing of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture. In 2013, there is going to be a scheduled BUSS test of novelty, uniqueness, uniformity and stability.
The distinctiveness of begonias creates potential in these plants. Some of them even have the potential to be medicinal plants. According to Hartutiningsih, who is currently still working on some kind of begonia research, begonias as medicinal plants can supposedly cure several diseases, including fever and the venereal disease syphilis. There are begonias that contain laxatives or substances to treat upset stomach. Begonia glabra is alleged to have medicinal properties for healing new wounds. Its leaves, stems and flowers contain saponins. Its leaves contain tannins, while its stems and flowers contain flavonoids and polyphenols.
Begonia fimbristipula efficaciously reduces temperature/fever, and is a cough medicine and pain medicine in coming months. This type of medicine has been processed into a fresh drink, a somewhat bitter tea from China. Begonia multangula and Begonia robusta with the local name hariang is used by Sundanese people in West Java as a substitute for vegetable acid. Begonia baliensis Girmansyah is a source of traditional medicine used to relieve cough and throat. It contains active compounds that can inhibit the growth of bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Not only exotic. Begonias also contain a lot of other benefits. Science can reveal them.