Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum – waxing lyrical about bedding plants
Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum
Also known as Wax Begonias or Bedding Begonias, the wild parent-species of the Semperflorens group was introduced to European growers from Brazil in the 1820s. Many cultivars have descended from the parent species through hybridising and selection for desirable traits.
Wax Begonia flowers are edible!
The flowers have lime, lemon and green apple flavours. The First Nations Peoples of South America use the plants in herbal medicines for pain relief, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial preparations. Recent scientific research has found these time-honoured medicinal uses to be well-grounded.
The roots are, however, poisonous and contain soluble calcium oxalates, which can lead to kidney stones and mineral deficiencies.
Semperflorens are abundant bloomers with a long season. The epithet 'semper' is from the Latin for 'always' and 'florens' for 'flowering'.