Begonia (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Begonia L.

Family: Begoniaceae

Major species and synonyms

Vernacular names

B. hirtella:

  • Bearded begonia (En)
  • Indonesia: hariyang bulu (West Java).

B. muricata:

  • Indonesia: hariyang peucang (West Java), daun asam, tai bawi (Ambon)
  • Vietnam: thu hải dường, chua khan.


B. hirtella is native to the West Indies, Brazil and Peru. In Malaysia and Indonesia it is an escape from cultivation. B. muricata is indigenous to Indonesia and is occasionally cultivated elsewhere.


The sour leaves and stems are eaten raw or cooked in Indonesia. The plants are also used as ornamentals.


  • Juicy herbs, up to 40 cm (B. hirtella) or 90 cm (B. muricata) tall.
  • Leaf-blades obliquely ovate-cordate, 2.5 cm × 2-7 cm in B. hirtella, 4.5-17.5 cm × 4.5-13 cm in B. muricata, petioles short in B. hirtella, up to 25 cm long in B. muricata.

Both species like humid, stony sites, but B. muricata grows at higher altitudes (1000-2000 m) than B. hirtella (up to 1300 m). In New Guinea and the Philippines several other Begonia species are eaten as a vegetable.

Selected sources

  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963–1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol.1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol.2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • Barrau, J., 1962. Les plantes alimentaires de l'Océanie, origines, distribution et usages [The edible plants of Oceania, origins, distribution and uses]. University of Aix-Marseille, Faculty of Sciences, Thesis No 71. 275 pp.
  • Heyne, K., 1927. De nuttige planten van Nederlandsch Indië [The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies]. 2nd edition. 3 volumes. Departement van Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel in Nederlandsch Indië. 1953 pp. (3rd edition, 1950. van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage/Bandung, the Netherlands/Indonesia. 1660 pp.).