The International Database of the BEGONIACEAE
This site is completely free to use and is suited to begonia growers, collectors, breeders, researchers and anyone interested in these amazing plants. In fact any plant lover can find a lot to interest them on this site. The purpose is to provide a searchable database of information and photographs of begonia species and cultivars. Included is information on American Begonia Society (ABS) registered cultivars as well as unidentified species numbered plants (U###). This is a “wiki” style database where we encourage input from you to maintain accuracy, update information, add new plants, remove incorrect information and supply photographs. We are seeking your input as this is your database. You can advise us by clicking on the “wiki” tab located on any record details page.
A project such as this cannot happen without the work and effort of so many people who have brought us much information about begonias over the years. The inspiration to achieve this compendium came to me via several means. The American Begonia Society and its publication “The Begonian” was the first of these. I joined the society in 1979 and was impressed by the wealth of information published each month (back then) in that publication. The aims and purposes of the society are to this day clearly stated inside the front cover of each issue. Two of these aims stood out for me – “to standardize the nomenclature of begonias” and “to gather and publish information in regard to kinds, propagation, and culture of begonias and companion plants”. I was working at breeding new varieties at that time and found that there was no single place I could reference to get the information I needed. Just naming a new variety required a lot of research to establish whether I could use my proposed name or not. I remember thinking if we only had all of this information in one place.
A book published in 1981 was the next piece of brilliance that led me to develop this concept further. I still have my autographed copy of “BEGONIAS The Complete Reference Guide” by Mildred L. Thompson & Edward J. Thompson, in well worn condition. There in the back was “a directory of begonias”. At last, somewhere to find information with more than just names in the one place. But still I needed to cross reference to the “horticultural classification” within the body of that work to link the originator and date of introduction to the names in the directory. That was when I began this process. It was1986 when my first rudimentary database was built using an early spread sheet program called Multiplan. By this time I had acquired many second hand books on begonias including one little gem with many more names called the “Buxton Check List Of Begonias”, compiled by Bessie Buxton.
As the database developed a few other factors became evident. Firstly, there was no link between lists of species and lists of cultivars and secondly Multiplan was no longer a suitable format. So I converted the file to a more widely accepted format called Excel and added as much information as I could find on species begonias. As time went on the internet became a vast wealth of information on begonias, and this together with a few new book releases made researching much easier. I had already sourced magazines, nursery catalogues, plant lists, newsletters, articles, research papers, plant societies, begonia collectors, begonia breeders and web pages. By now the Excel spread sheet although very good was not flexible enough for requirements. To enhance this I created a database in Filemaker and imported the spread sheet data across. This is the database file now accessed on this web site.
During this time of development two other sources of information became available and the work of both individuals deserves high commendation. The late Jack Golding for his Begoniaceae species lists, revisions and updates which form most of the species information in the database. Also to Wally Wagner for the work he did in developing “The World Checklist of Hybrid Begonias” which is a source for much information on cultivars in the database. In summation this is not just a listing of plant names, nor is it just a very useful spreadsheet file. It is much more than these, bringing together three areas of begonia information – taxonomy, botany and horticulture with the addition of many photgraphs into a fully searchable database. I’ll end this here by making the observation that this is only the beginning!