Вадим Дудченко
Администратор портала

Scientists have described a huge new species of the genus Begonia from southern Tibet, China.

Habitat and large-sized plant of Begonia giganticaulis: (A) habitat showing plants (arrows indicate) growing along stream bank; (B) flowering plant growing along slope of valley; (C) one of the tallest individuals with Professor Dai-Ke Tian. Image credit: Dai-Ke Tian / Shi-Wei Guo / Qing-Gong Mao.

Begonia is a large genus of perennial flowering plants in the family Begoniaceae.

It contains more than 2,000 species that are native to subtropical and tropical climates.

Some species are commonly grown indoors as ornamental houseplants in cooler climates.

“Since most begonias are small weeds, a begonia taller than a human is a very unusual sight,” said Professor Daike Tian, a researcher with the Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden and the Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues.

“However, the newly-discovered species, Begonia giganticaulis, is one of the few exceptions.”

“To date, this plant is the tallest begonia recorded in the whole of Asia.”

Begonia giganticaulis is perennial, evergreen, dioecious, and can reach a height of 4 m.

“The new species is mostly similar to Begonia longifolia and Begonia acetosella, but clearly differs from the former mainly by its dioecious (vs. monoecious), taller (to 4 m vs. less than 2 m) plants, longer (vs. shorter) inflorescence, and unique shape of fruits,” the researchers said.

“It differs from the latter mainly by its taller (to 4 m vs. less than 2 m) plants, late and longer (June to October vs. March to April) flowering time, longer (6-20 mm vs. 5-12 mm) pedicel, 6 (vs. 4) tepals of pistillate flower and 3 (vs. 4)-loculed ovary.”

Begonia giganticaulis is currently found in at least two localities in the county of Mêdog in Tibet.

“Additional populations might be discovered when more surveys are conducted in China-India border region,” the authors said.

“However, based on current data, it should be categorized as Endangered due to less than 500 km2 area of occupancy with severely fragmented habitat consisting of less than 5 known populations totally under 1,000 individuals by estimation.”

The discovery of Begonia giganticaulis is described in a paper in the journal PhytoKeys.

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D.-K. Tian et al. 2021. A new species (Begonia giganticaulis) of Begoniaceae from southern Xizang (Tibet) of China. PhytoKeys 187: 189-205; doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.187.75854

 



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