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    Charles Plumier discovered the begonia in 1690, not as some may believe Michel Begon.  Plumier only drew and described the plants, it's quite sure he didn't bring any plant, roots or seed back to France. Contrary to belief Michel Begon had never seen a begonia. Charles Plumier a Franciscan minimum monk, botanist and drawer will discover 6 small herbaceous plants. He will find them to be alike and name them Begonia to pay homage to his benefactor on returning to France. Begon on Louis xiv request organised an exhibition to the West Indies. It was the first time a plant was dedicated to someone and Plumier can be considered as the inventor of botanical dedication. Others that Plumier dedicated was the Fuchsia to Dr Leonard Fuchs, Magnolia Grandiflora to Pierre Magnol and the Lobelia in remembrance of botanist Mathis De L'Obel. There was some known species before Plumier's discoveries B Gracillis HBK discovered in Mexico in 1557 described under the name Totoncaxoxo Coyollin by Hernandez from Spain. Some others to name B Grandis from China B Malabarica Lamarck from India.
   Today the genus Begonia holds in fact a world record with 1,550 botanical Begonia species subspecies forms & varieties ( Fort Worth Texas check list 1990 ) and the last check list for hybrids 15,000. The Rochefort Conservatory include few traditional Begonias, on the contrary it presents the unknown, the forgotten, the discovery, and the imaginary African miniatures about 5 cm to South American giants 5 meters tall. It's in fact a shop window of tropical ecology. Even for the experienced horticulturist for the most famous botanist who come to discover the diversity of the species. Efforts since 1987 have been concentrated on botanical and horticultural observation of the collection , the reaction to up to date technology & materials. Also the study on nutrition, how to recognise deficiency symptoms, the influence of pruning. The first necessity is to try and acclimatise any new plant. Most of the time botanical species arrive without precise indications of their biotope.

Phil Champion  April 2012

ASSOCIATED PAGES:     ROCHEFORT BEGONIAS 2012 1     ROCHEFORT BEGONIAS 2012 3
ROCHEFORT BEGONIAS 2014  1
PHIL CHAMPION'S DIARY 2011 -  THE LONELY BEGONIA GROWER
PHIL'S GREENHOUSE  2008

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