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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 13 | Begoniaceae

1. Begonia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1056. 1753.

秋海棠属 qiu hai tang shu

Perennial succulent herbs, rarely subshrubs. Stem erect, frequently rhizomatous, or plants tuberous and either acaulescent or shortly stemmed, rarely lianoid or climbing with adventitious roots, or stoloniferous. Leaves simple, rarely palmately compound, alternate or all basal; blade often oblique and asymmetric, rarely symmetric, margin often irregularly serrate and divided, occasionally entire, venation usually palmate; petiole long, weak; stipules membranous, usually deciduous. Flowers unisexual, plants monoecious, rarely dioecious, (1 or)2-4 to several, rarely numerous, in dichotomous cymes, sometimes in panicle, with pedicels and bracts. Staminate flower: tepals 2 or 4 and decussate, usually outer ones larger, inner ones smaller; stamens usually numerous; filaments free or connate at base; anthers 2-celled, apical or lateral; connectives extended at apex, sometimes apiculate. Pistillate flower: tepals 2-5(-10); pistil composed of 2-5(-7) carpels; ovary inferior, 1-3(-7)-loculed; placentae axile or parietal; styles 2 or 3(or more), free or fused at base, forked once or more; stigma turgid, spirally twisted-tortuous or U-shaped, capitate or reniform, setose-papillose. Capsule dry, sometimes berrylike, unequally or subequally 3-winged, rarely wingless and 3- or 4-horned; seeds very numerous, pale brown, oblong, minute, testa reticulate.

More than 1400 species: widely distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with ca. 150 species in Africa, more than 600 species in Central and South America, and more than 600 species in Asia; 173 species (141 endemic) in China.

Begonia species in China are mostly distributed S of the Chang Jiang, particularly concentrated in SE Yunnan and SW Guangxi, with only a few extending into N China.

The authors learned of two additional, recently described species as this volume was going to press. Begonia guaniana H. Ma & H. Z. Li (Ann. Bot. Fenn. 43: 466. 2006) was described from NE Yunnan (Yanjin), where it grows on moist cliffs under bamboo forest at ca. 500 m. Its chromosome number is 2n = 24*. It resembles B. labordei, especially in its tuberous, stemless habit. Begonia coelocentroides Y. M. Shui & Z. D. Wei (Acta Phytotax. Sin. 45: 86. 2007) was described from W Yunnan (Yingjiang), where it grows on cliffs often in forests or near streams at ca. 1300 m, flowering in August and fruiting in October. It resembles B. oreodoxa in having parietal placentae at the upper part of the ovary, differing mainly in the female flowers with 5 tepals and the largest wing of the capsule being 20-22 mm and ligulate.

The records of Begonia balansana Gagnepain from Guangxi and Yunnan in FRPS (52(1): 212. 1999) are possibly errors and require confirmation. The second author has seen no specimens from China that would substantiate these records. This species is believed to be endemic to N Vietnam. See also Tebbitt (Edinburgh J. Bot. 60: 1-9. 2003).

It can be difficult to key out the sections of Begonia, because sectional distinctions rely heavily on the placentation structure, which is either unavailable on specimens or difficult to analyse (many Begonia specimens are poorly prepared). Information on sections to which Begonia species belong may be desirable to specialists, although it should be noted that there are disagreements about the placement of some species. Please refer to Y. M. Shui, C.-I Peng & C. Y. Wu, Synopsis of the Chinese species of Begonia (Begoniaceae), with a reappraisal of the sectional delimitation (Bot. Bull. Acad. Sin. 43: 313-327. 2002).

In China, all species are perennial herbs (rarely subshrubs). All species with basal tubers are described as deciduous, although living material is not available for all tuberous species. The aerial parts of the plants wilt in winter or in the dry season. Most species are monoecious with cymose, dichasial inflorescences. The inflorescences are usually protandrous (staminate flowers open before pistillate flowers) and gynaeandrous (staminate flowers basal and pistillate flowers distal).

Key 3

1 Leaf blade divided to more than 1/2 of leaf length   (2)
+ Leaf blade unlobed to shallowly lobed, never divided to 1/2 of leaf length   (6)
2 (1) Leaf blade distinctly hairy   (3)
+ Leaf blade glabrous or nearly so   (4)
3 (2) Leaf lobes with lobules.   156 B. taliensis
+ Leaf lobes without lobules.   73 B. imitans
4 (2) Petiole with red, linear dots; leaf lobes with lobules.   140 B. rubropunctata
+ Petiole without red, linear dots; leaf lobules absent   (5)
5 (4) Plant epiphytic; placentae bifid.   5 B. arboreta
+ Plant epipetric; placentae undivided.   84 B. lithophila
6 (1) Leaf blade glabrous   (7)
+ Leaf blade pubescent   (11)
7 (6) Capsules wingless, fusiform; placentae undivided.   166 B. wilsonii
+ Capsules 3-winged; placentae bifid   (8)
8 (7) Both male and female tepals 2   (9)
+ Male tepals 4   (10)
9 (8) Leaf blade herbaceous, shallowly lobed, lobes narrowly triangular.   170 B. xishuiensis
+ Leaf blade thick, unlobed.   153 B. summoglabra
10 (8) Female tepals 3 or 4.   76 B. labordei
+ Female tepals 2.   136 B. rongjiangensis
11 (6) Leaf blade shallowly lobed (to 1/3 of leaf length)   (12)
+ Leaf blade unlobed or very shallowly lobed   (13)
12 (11) Leaves several.   60 B. guishanensis
+ Leaves 1 or 2.   104 B. muliensis
13 (11) Female tepals 4; capsule irregularly dehiscent, wings subequal.   42 B. discreta
+ Female tepals 2, 3, or 5; capsule dehiscent along sutures, wings distinctly unequal (sometimes subequal)   (14)
14 (13) Female flower with 2 bracteoles.   172 B. yui
+ Female flower without bracteoles   (15)
15 (14) Bracts serrate at apex.   38 B. dentatobracteata
+ Bracts entire to denticulate or fimbriate   (16)
16 (15) Female tepals 2   (17)
+ Female tepals 3-5   (18)
17 (16) Placentae bifid.   169 B. xingyiensis
+ Placentae undivided.   68 B. henryi
18 (16) Female tepals 3 (sometimes 4 in B. labordei)   (19)
+ Female tepals 5   (21)
19 (18) Inflorescence a single axis, racemose at base.   76 B. labordei
+ Inflorescence dichasial or simple with 2 or 3 flowers   (20)
20 (19) Outer tepals and ovary pubescent.   21 B. chingii
+ Outer tepals and ovary glabrous.   51 B. fimbristipula
21 (18) Leaf blade 2-3.4(-4) cm; placentae undivided.   112 B. parvula
+ Leaf blade larger; placentae bifid   (22)
22 (21) Staminate tepals apically acute.   2 B. acutitepala
+ Staminate tepals apically rounded or obtuse   (23)
23 (22) Leaf blade 5-8(-15) cm; ovary hairy.   117 B. picta
+ Leaf blade 15-20(-30) cm; ovary glabrous.   6 B. asperifolia

List of Keys

  • List of lower taxa


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