Saturday, April 13, 2013

Variegated Begonia elisabethae aff

If you have a copy of Ruth Kiew's book Begonias of Peninsular Malaysia,you would probably see a plain green species with a peculiar habit of producing bulbils at the root tip. Supposedly, only  Begonia elisabethae has such a reproductive habit locally, but alas with its plain green leaves its not too eye catching.

While exploring the limestone of S. Thailand bordering the Peninsula Malaysia, I had the good fortune of finding a similar species growing on vertical cliffs, except for the intricate pattern on the leaf. I had visited the habitat during the wet and dry season, and noticed that the plant die down completely during the dry months - around December and January. 

During the wet season, which, by the way, is not a good time to scale the muddy, slippery slope, I saw the plant in its full glory ....
Strangely, the plant also produced bulbils at the leaf tip ....
Upon dislodging the plant from the cliff, I can see a rather large bulb about 2 cm in diameter. The  plain green variety also grew on the same cliff as the variegated one.
These are the male and female flowers.

At this point I can only say they are most probably similar to the Begonia elisabethae featured in the book except for their variegation. This group of closely related seasonal Begonias (which include B. variabilis and B. integrifolia) are known to be variable in their vegetative appearance so I won't be at all surprise if indeed its the same species.

And by the way, this is a very frustrating plant to grow due to its dormant habit and the ease which the elongated leaf rots.  


Titania said...

How exciting and so very beautiful. I love the enthusiasm about plants to collect and to preserve.

Hort Log said...

Thanks for your comment Trudi. Its indeed one of the more exciting finds.

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