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Is it just me?

Posted by purpleinopp 8b AL (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 9, 12 at 11:54

Or are Begonias extremely confusing to everyone? This seems to be a genus where species is hardly ever mentioned, unlike almost all other plants, inside and out.

For the most part these groups do not correspond to any formal taxonomic groupings or phylogeny and many species and hybrids have characteristics of more than one group, or do not fit well in any of them.

How/why did it get like that? So much interbreeding? Are any of the common Begonias an original, non-cultivar species?

It seems really hard to investigate Begonias although I've been a gardener for a long time. Trying to get the hang of the basics of Begonias has me quite confused.

The other question I have is if all wax Begonias are the same? Are they all "Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum?" Is there variations in different batches? Like one crop that has a lot of taller plants, or a crop that tolerates more sun? The way the same parents can have wildly different-looking kids. Obviously I don't know much about genetics and I don't even think I'm asking this right, or if it's a "wrong question," but maybe somebody will know what I mean, set me straight, whatever the case may be.

I would love to know more about this stuff if anyone with info would care to pontificate. Or maybe link to some websites that are hopefully less confusing than the ones I've dabbled in looking at before. I usually catch-on fast enough regarding plants, but Begonias are making me feel dumb. Is this why there are so few responses when people want to ID their Begonia? Still trying to understand if all angel wings are B. coccinea...?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is it just me?

Go to the ABS site ( and the Houston branch ( that will get you started on some of your questions. Lots of species out there if you know where to look. Waxes for the most part are improvements over the species which can be weedy.

RE: Is it just me?

If you can find a copy of Charles Chevalier's book, Les Begonias, translated into English by Alva G. Graham in 1975 and sold for many years thru the begonia society,there is a good history threin of semperflorens (wax) begonias and their development from the species. Also, Begonias The Complete Reference Guide by Mildred and Edward Thompson, has a section and discussion of the semperflorens.

RE: Is it just me?

Thanks for the inputs!

RE: Is it just me?

Species show up in some of our local nurseries. I've had one, an unidentified species (U099, I think) for about 10 years. Most of the species that I've had or seen have been cane begonias. Hcmcdole, thanks for the reference to the Houston Begonia Society - I used to be a member, it's a good group.

RE: Is it just me?

Purple..strange..I posted on this thread yesterday, but it's not here???

Regarding Wax Begonias. There are two different colored foliage WB's sold here..marked accent/edging garden plant. The tags read Wax Begonia.
One w/all green leaves, the other 'purple.' :) Flowers are either pink or white.

I don't know if they're the same species but green remains green and purple remains purple, with adequate sun, of course.

Normal height is 8-10", including flowers.

One year, I had an extra WB left, so decided to keep as an indoor plant. It started growing spindly during winter, so I placed in an old aquarium, with light.

Purple, the Wax Begonia grew 4' or taller. I didn't know they grew so tall.
WB was in a north window, not too far from west, and artificial light that came with the aquarium hood.
I had to remove the plastic in back of the hood so Begonia could grow upwards.
Also, it bloomed year round, for many years.

So, I too wonder if there's more than one type of Wax Begonia. Seems at least two exist.

HCM, thanks for the link. Toni

RE: Is it just me?

Thanks for the further inputs!

Toni, people report such wildly different results from the wax B's, it's hard to believe they're all exactly the same, no doubt.

RE: Is it just me?

This is a perfect example of what's confusing me. In another post, these 2 Begonias are referred to:
B. Paul Hernandez, B. luxurians x gehrtii

I've seen this kind of thing all over the internet.

Why are the 2 parent species not part of the name for the first one, and why does the 2nd one NOT have a cultivar name? Why does this one genus break the rule (genus, species, cultivar) seemingly AS a rule?

RE: Is it just me?

If they had been registered with the begonia society, you might find the parentage of 'Paul Hernandez' listed unless it is of unknown origin. The second plant has no cultivar name yet, maybe it never will, it is the choice of the hybridizer. Registering with the society is not mandatory, anyone, anywhere can cross begonias and name them or not. It would be far more helpful to register them with the society as it is a way to learn if a certain cross has already been done and released under a name. I think many growers do not know the cultivar registration program exists, certainly if they aren't society members they would not know.

RE: Is it just me?

Oh my, that's a mess. But those genetics folks would probably come along and change them all soon anyway.


RE: Is it just me?

Go to the International Database of Begonias if you want to know more about the parents and who/when hybridized it. Some names are memorable, some not so. A good common name helps most folks remember the name: River Nile or Black Coffee is easier to remember than luxurians x gehrtii, don't you think?

International Begonias Database

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