I have always loved Begonia’s and this year for the first time — ever, I planted them.
I was surprised to find that there are over 550 varieties. In fact one article says over 1200. My favorite are the tuberous with the larger blooms. I love the vibrant colors.
Begonia’s have been around for awhile. The first documentation was by a Franciscan monk, who found fibrous begonias in Brazil in 1690.
Like so many of our modern day plants/flowers they have a medicinal history. In China they were used as a disinfectant for wounds, stop swelling, ease colds and upset stomachs. In other areas of the world the sap was used for toothaches or to cure kidney ailments. The flowers were used to ease burns.
Again, our modern day garden flowers and plants have a history as a food. Some species leaves were cooked or eaten raw with the flowers. Tuberous begonia stems have a similar texture and flavor as rhubarb. In some countries they are used to make sauce for fish dishes. The flowers are used in salads. I’m thinking that would be a colorful addition to the table. It’s said the Chinese make cheese with the milk curdling sap. They are a good souces of vitamin C and were used to prevent scurvy when citrus fruits weren’t available.
For me, I’m just going to enjoy them. Maybe try to save the tubers, but if not it will be an annual purchase for my garden.