Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Tale of 2 Begonia brevirimosa

Begonia brevirimosa ssp "Exotica" Begonia brevirimosa ssp "Brevirimosa".

The image of the Begonia "exotica" was implanted in my memory 10 plus years ago while reading Alfred B. Graf's book "Tropica" borrowed from library. In fact, I probably borrowed the book more than ten times - it was a stress reliever and I literally hugged the heavy book to sleep. Anyway, this strange new species tentatively named Begonia "exotica" from the mysterious island of New Guinea, was so different from any Begonias I knew, psychedelically coloured leaves and all, that I set my sight to hunt it down at all cost, even to the dark depths of New Guinea ...

Luckily, I did not have to go that far. When I eventually saw it on the rack of a private collector a few years later, my heart was thumping.

I remembered he said, almost apologetically, that it would be a bit expensive as it was a rare plant

So how much ? I asked

8 dollars, he replied.

I grabbed it immediately and thanked him profusely. Nowadays, you can probably see them on sale in quite a few on-line sites but in those days it was indeed rare.

As it turned out, what I had was not exactly "exotica" but the subspecies Begonia brevirimosa brevirimosa (by the way, subspecies is a taxonomic term meaning naturally occuring variants of ths same species). In 2005, Mark Tebbitt formally described "exotica" to be a subspecies, rather than another new species, after considering the flowers and fruits characteristics. I acquired the real "exotica" only last year and finally had a chance to compare the two. Both of them are quite similar but not really the same - the dominating bright pink streaks for "exotica" really stood out.

Given some shade from full sun, warmth and high humidity, the plants thrived at my plot - but do not seem to flower freely. Unfortunately, snails and slugs cannot leave them alone and they cannot adapt to the drier balcony environment when I tried to bring them indoors.

14 comments:

Hermes said...

What a beauty an well done for a great post.

George said...

Hi there, I've been following your blog for some time and I always enjoy your begonia posts. These brevirimosas look fantastic.

Hort Log said...

Thanks....imo one of the most beautiful wild begonia species

leadpb said...

There is a newish form called B. b. e. 'Silver' where the metallic patches are silver rather than metallic pink.

Do you have any idea what the epithet "brevirimosa" means? Sounds like it should be "breviramosa"...

Hort Log said...

Hi leadpb - thanks for the info - I do not know there's a silver form.

brevirimosa is the published name - dunno what it means but will post it here if I find anything.

Anonymous said...

If you want to read more about B. brevirimosa, try: "Jack Golding: Begonia exotica and Begonia brevirimosa - Different Species; The Begonian, Vol 71; Sep - Oct 2004; p 168 - 173.

Greetings

reiner

Hort Log said...

Hi Reiner,

thanks for stopping by.

I miss your forum - did you close it or move somewhere else ?

earth9 said...

I had this one before it succumbed to rot. Think it doesn't like wet feet and prefers drier env.

Hort Log said...

Hi Isla,

Natural habitats of many Begonias are usually very humid but the plant itself grow on thin humus or vetical slopes where the water wlll drip from the leaves instead of staying there. In cultivation, over-watering, instead of raising local humidity (eg misting the ground), is a common cause of failure. If the air is too dry, leaves will become small or turn brown.

The growing condition is not easy to replicate at home balcony so many of these species are strictly terrariums.

Helena said...

Wow, great leaves! Wish I had the space to grow some more begonias, there are so many beautiful species I would like to have...

Hort Log said...

Helena,

do you have many Begonias ?

do drop me a mail if your are keen to trade.

cheers

Green Baron said...

HortLog,
I have both ssp and find 'Exotica' to be more hardy and easier to grow.
"Exotica' also prefer the medium to be not so wet.

Hort Log said...

Thanks for the info. I grow them side by side and don't really notice any difference in their requirement - but snails really like them.

Anonymous said...

hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

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