Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
This glossy-leaved begonia, with its deep-red stems and light-pink flowers, is called the fuchsia-flowered begonia because at a casual glance it could be mistaken for a fuchsia.
Many hundreds of species of begonia exist and almost all come from tropical or sub-tropical regions of the world. This particular one, Begonia fuchsioides, is native to Columbia and Venezuela, where its blooms range in color from bright-red to a soft pink.
The genus Begonia is named in honor of Michel Bégon (1638-1710) who, as intendant (governor-general) of the Windward Isles of the Caribbean, developed a keen interest in the local flora.
While there, he met the botanist Charles Plumier who, because of his generous habit of celebrating his friends when applying names to new genera, was a good person to know. Plumier also honored botanists of earlier generations, including Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), now remembered principally by the name of the plant we know as the fuchsia.
Our fuchsia-flowered begonia can be seen in the Palm House section of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory.