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Begonia is familiar as a garden plant grown for its beautiful foliage. Indeed there are few other genera that can challenge Begonia in variety of leaf shapes, colour and patterns. It often comes as a surprise to learn that the forests of Borneo are a hot spot for begonias with almost 200 named species. They grow in the deeply shaded forest understorey from the lowlands to mountain tops and on all rock types including granite, limestone, sandstone and ultramafic rocks.
Readily recognised as a begonia by the very unequal sided leaf, until now it has been difficult if not impossible for naturalists to identify Bornean species. The Guide aims to overcome this and to spur interest in this fascinating genus by providing profuse illustrations, a brief description and information on distribution, habitat and uses, if any. For those who wish to delve deeper, a list of all known Bornean begonias is provided together with a complete compendium of literature pertaining to Bornean begonias.
Of the 194 begonias known from Borneo, 134 are illustrated here, the great majority for the first time. All Borneo’s begonias are endemic, i.e. are found nowhere else in the world, and rather few are widespread with only a handful crossing political boundaries between Brunei, Kalimantan, Sabah and Sarawak.
As you will see from the begonias illustrated in the Guide, several can challenge cultivated ornamental begonias for their stunningly beautiful or striking foliage.