The genus Begonia may be the largest among Angiosperms as it consists of approximately 1,500 species and many more hybrids and cultivars. Together with Hillebrandia, it makes up the family Begoniaceae in the order Cucurbitales. Begonia species are herbaceous plants distributed primarily in moist environments of tropical and subtropical areas of Central and South America, Africa, and southern Asia. The plants are grown for colorful flowers, attractive foliage and striking forms. The genus represents one of the most important floriculture crops worldwide.
The OPGC is focusing its efforts with Begonia in developing a substantial seed collection of the begonia species that have contributed to the development of the major cultivated forms, such as the Semperflorens (or fibrous-rooted) Group and the Tuberous Group. Our research aims at understanding seed production in selected species, assessing seed longevity in storage, and attempting selected interspecific crosses to incorporate new desirable traits into certain backgrounds. Traits of interest include disease resistance, yellow flowers, and cold hardiness. We collaborate with other Begonia experts including members of the American Begonia Society, public-institution breeders such as Dr. Cecil Pounders of the USDA-ARS, organizations with special collections such as the Fort Worth Botanical Garden, and other individuals.
Selected examples of our Begonia collection are listed below: