What is the ID of the Begonia in this painting?

mark4321_gwOctober 26, 2012

I'm curious what the ID is of the Begonia in the painting "Woman with Plants" by Grant Wood. Wood is the painter best known for "American Gothic". I'll give a link to the full painting at the bottom.

Here's the Begonia in the painting:

Note that the leaves are large compared to the size of her hands. So they look 6 inches, maybe, across (?) I did a little searching, and the closest thing I found was Begonia hydrocotylefolia (at least some pictures of this species, while others (Kartuz photo) have markings that make it look different). However, my impression is that that species would be significantly smaller than what is depicted in the painting.

If someone grows whatever the species/hybrid depicted in the painting, I could to send a rooted cutting of either Begonia luxurians or Impatiens namchabarwensis (blue Impatiens) in exchange for an unrooted cutting. I could send both for an rooted cutting. Or I could substitute other things if those are not of interest.

If someone can ID this Begonia I would be happy to send one of those rooted cuttings in exchange for postage.

I just received a beautiful division which traces back to the original Sanseveria owned by the woman in the painting (the artist's mother). Unless it's a hybrid, I assume the Begonia clone may be lost. However, it would still be fun to track down whatever plant it is.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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The link was strangely missing. I'll list it below, as well as try again, without quotes.


Here is a link that might be useful: Missing link

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:15AM
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odyssey3(7 noVA)

Could this not just be an old beefsteak begonia?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 10:24PM
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I bet you are right.

It would be a commonly available species or hybrid at that time (1929). An heirloom, even back then, in the original sense of the word.

It seems a good match, within the limits of "artistic license". Perhaps the leaves in the painting are a little more spiraled, or the veins a little longer. Maybe? The Sansevieria itself seems a bit stylized.

Also, the Beefsteak Begonia is Begonia 'Erythrophylla', or B. hydrocotylifolia x B. manicata. So maybe I saw something of the B. hydrocotylifolia parent in the hybrid?

Unless someone has inside knowledge about the plants that Hattie Wood grew, I will be surprised if anyone can get closer.

If anyone has any other or better guesses I would of course love to hear them. Odyssey3, I certainly consider this a good enough guess, and if you are interested in something for postage I could send it. I will contact you. If someone comes up with a clearly better answer I could do the same.

So if this seems to be right and someone has the "true" beafsteak Begonia, B. 'Erythrophylla', please contact me. I notice that Peppers/Accents for Home and Garden also sells it at a good price. I've done business with them before and was very pleased. So if nobody has it I will contact them or check the listings on the "other" garden forum.

Begonia 'Erythrophylla' at Peppers:


This photo from Pepper's is useful for making the comparison:


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 12:30AM
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odyssey3(7 noVA)

Hi Mark4321,

The more I think about it, the more I would bet it is Erythrophylla. I got your e-mail and just replied. I finally got a break from taking all my plants in so they don't meet Sandy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peace Tree Farms Erythrophylla

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 8:07PM
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