> Volume 59 (May/June 1992, pages 99 - 100)
by Don Miller
B. listada L. B. Smith and D. C. Wasshausen was
first introduced to us through the ABS Seed Fund in August 1961 as a new
species from Brazil. Later, this plant was determined to be a rare species
growing in Rio Grande do Sul, a state located at the southern tip of
Brazil near Paraguay and Uruguay.
For many years the plant was labeled B. listada
hort. The abbreviation "hort." stands for horticulture, and means that
this is a horticultural name, not an official botanical Latin name.
When it was determined that this was a species that
had not been described and therefore had no official botanical name,
Thelma O'Reilly of La Mesa, California furnished the Smithsonian Institute
with a type specimen. From this plant, Dr. Lyman Smith and Dr. Dieter
Wasshausen wrote a Latin description and legitimized the name of B.
listada in the July 1981 Begonian. Listada spelled with
"...ta...", means "striped".
B. listada, along with its hybrids, is so
distinctive that it has its own horticultural group: the shrub-like,
distinctive foliage, listada-type begonias.
This species has an elliptical leaf blade that comes
to a point at each end. It is covered with thick hairs, which give it a
velvety texture. The leaf surface is a dark olive green with a white to
chartreuse line down the middle.
The back of the leaf is red. An average leaf measures
4" by 1" - 1 3/4". Occasionally this species will sport and produce
arrow-head-like or triangular leaves on a stem. This is not a stable
mutation, and will later revert back to the original leaf shape.
Growth habit for this Brazilian is somewhat
horizontal. It can make a beautiful hanging basket or can be staked to
grow upright. The sparse white flowers appear mostly in the fall and
winter, and in strong light the buds are covered with pink hairs.
B. listada has been used for many beautiful
hybrids, and its leaf texture and color pattern seem to dominate. some of
its offspring are Begonias 'Helen Michelson', 'Mabel Corwin', 'Magdalene
Madsen', 'Murray Morrison', 'Oh No', 'Raymond George Nelson', and
'Caravan' (formerly know as 'Serlis').
Light: B. listada like strong light, but not
intense direct sun.
Feeding: Like most begonias, it responds to frequent
fertilizing and forms a bushy mound. I feed it once a week with 20-20-20.
Temperature: The Texas sun slows this begonia down and
the leaves may curl or brown on the edge. With diligent care it perks back
up in the fall.
Propagation: This species is very easy to propagate by
stem or leaf cuttings. From a leaf it quickly makes a compact, bushy
The drawing by Kit Jeans Mounger first
appeared in the Begonia Book of Days.
Don Miller's article first appeared in Begonia
Leaflet, newsletter of the Southwest Region.