Begonia X Corallina (Hybrid)

Latin/Botanical Name: Begonia x Corallina (hybrid)
Origin:  Tropics (Americas, Africa, Asia)
Family Name:  Begoniaceae
Common Name:  Angel Wing Begonia
Given Name:  Scarlett

 

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Silver spots or streaks can be found on the top of the Angel Wing’s waxy leaves, while underneath, there is a vibrant range of reds and ambers that fade to green as they near the stalk.  The leaves seem to fold in from the edges, giving it the winged appearance she is named after.

 

A member of the Begonia Cane Family, her stalk is reminiscent of bamboo.  Nodes are visible every 2-3 inches, with new leaves and the buds of flowers sprouting from these junction points. She blooms from Spring to Autumn and her petals are edible, although I can’t speak to their specific taste as I have yet to indulge.She enjoys a position facing northeast where the light is in abundance.  She does not seem to want for water more than once a week.   Preferring a loose, airy soil, one that breathes, she appears content rooted in a mix of bark, pebbles, and fertilizer.

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Drawing from a wealth of experience, in 1931, Eva Kenworthy Gray (1863-1951) wrote the first book devoted solely to begonias, aptly – and simply – titled “Begonias”.   Mrs Gray’s gardening prowess became popular in 1923 when she created the Begonia ‘Nelly Bly’, which appears to be her first noteworthy contribution to the hybrid Begonia family, yet it wasn’t her last.    In 1926, Mrs. Gray crossed B. aconitifolia with B. coccinea ‘Lucerna’, which eventually lead to the Angel Wing group of hybrids.

Unlike heirloom plants which retain a pure DNA, or something resembling that, hybrids are a cross of various plants, typically two.   Arguably, given the nature of cross-breeding and the close-quarters of many green-houses and gardens, most plants commercially sold today are hybrids.   That aside, whether innocently or intentionally, the benefits of hybridization can be likened to the benefits of mating across genetic gulfs:  by combining different, yet compatible DNA, we seek to increase the chance of survival for our offspring.   Cross-pollination in plants, such as the Angel Wing Begonia, give rise to a resiliency to disease, temperatures, climates and ultimately, when successful, produces heartier strains.

Awesome, tangental note #1:  ‘Lucerna’ had been a chance find within a Lucerne, Swiss garden in 1892; B. aconitifolia, one of the cane-like begonias, had been introduced from Brazil this same year.
 

 

Awesome, tangental note #2:  Mrs. Gray grew all the plants for Begonias as well as wrote the text, drew and later photographed all seedlings at different stages.  As if that weren’t enough, she set the type for her book and used a hand press for all print copies.
 

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**Begonia X Corallina (Hybrid)**

i’ve gotten in the habit
of sketching in the dark
& writing about odd & expiring plants
my mouth tastes of petal & stamen y sepal

the lurid anatomy of death calls to me
shrieking into the night
the way a son
recognizes his mother
the way a lover
understands the distance
i hear it
i know it

i have no idea what you think of me
only that you’ve used your own brush & paints
i don’t recognize this portrait
we tried so hard to blossom

this is what’s left
the fading of the fever

i have this way of being
silver spots and streaks line waxy Angel Wings
& underneath
vibrant reds & ambers linger at the edge of possibility
contemplating their existence as they fade to green while nearing the stalk
the begonia x corallina is a hybrid
it grows y stretches & folds in the dark
becoming & scribbling & shrieking in the pitch, too

 

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