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Home > Begonian > Volume 71 (September/October 2004)

Begonia petasitifolia Brade
by Iris Bird

My species B. petasitifolia is a thick stem and beautiful. I love it. I committed a sin, in my mind, when I forgot to add to the plant label where and when I purchased this plant. Or, if someone gave me a small one. I remember it was very small when I first was its keeper and owner. I guess it is my age; that is my excuse for not keeping this vital information. Maybe it will come back to me one of these days?

My plant is now almost two feet tall and lovely. It has just finished blooming. The blooms are very white. I cut the last ones off last week, June 24th. The flower stems had grown to almost three feet tall above the plant with about 200 tiny blooms on the tip of each stem. There were six stems all at once. They lasted in good condition for about a month. I tried to pollinate them, but they were too tiny for me to keep my constant eye upon so many blooms. They were all together in a bunch. Next time.

The leaves are gray in color, and felted, as in B. venosa, B. 'Fleece Alba', B. peltata (syn. B. incana), and B. kellermanii. The grey felting has some small white hairs. I am sure there is a botanical word for felting, but it escapes me at the moment. If in some sunlight the felting is very soft and beautiful. If not given enough light, the surface of the leaves become somewhat shiny. I usually water the whole plant, leaves and all. When the water dries the felt returns.

B. petasitifolia is now in a tall 16 inch pot and stakes. The leaf stem, petioles, are 8 inches to 20 inches in height. They are very succulent, and fleshy with colors of beige, brownish and have slight spotting. Care must be taken when watering or transporting not to touch the leaves. Any other plant nearby will cause a blemish on the leaf when coming in close contact. Once the felt is marred, it stays as is.

B. petasitifolia
Above is the top of Iris' Begonia petasitifolia and below is its base and a leaf closeup. In the May/June 1986 Begonianon page 73, Rudy Ziesenhenne identified U001 as Begonia grisea and also noted the similarities and differences between that plant and B. petasitifolia. Both are unique.
B. petasitifolia stem B. petasitifolia leaf

The leaves are cordate and opaque. There are pure white veins running up through the leaf, from the main axis, where the leaf blade forms with a very white center at this point.

The trunk of this thick stem is very unique. It is green with some marks or spots of pink/yellow. And it is about three inches in diameter. The stipules are red.

My plant is growing in the greenhouse as I do not wish it to dry completely even though at times it has been quite dry. It needs the humidity of the greenhouse, I am sure, because of the succulent nature of the plant.

I haven't been able to find much literature regarding his species except the article by Rudy Ziesenhenne on Begonia grisea in which he talks about B. petasitifolia (May/June 1986, p. 83). If anyone has more knowledge of this plant, I would like very much to learn more about it. I am enjoying watching it grow and very happy it is in great health. A plus. Another plus is the ease of growing into a beautiful plant.

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