Begonia Picta

Botanical Name  :Begonia picta
Family :
Begoniaceae
Genus: Begonia
Synonyms :         Begonia echinata – Royle., Begonia erosa – Wallich.
Common Name : In the local Nepali language it is known as makkar-kajay.


Habitat
:  Range E. Asia – Himalayas .Eastern Himalayas in shaded ledges, along roadsides and among humus filled rock crevices. Shady banks and rock ledges in wetter areas, to 2800 metres. Plants are sometimes found at much higher elevations.


Description:

Perennial growing to 0.2m.
A tuberous rooted species growing from rock crevices and mud ledges. dormant in winter. New growth starts from late spring and produces beautifully colour leaves. Flowers throughout summer with clusters of showy deep pink flowers. A form with plain green leaves also exists.
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From mid summer till early autumn Begonia picta is found flowering in the Darjeeling Himalayas. A botanical variant of the species has beautifully marked leaves. In winter the leaves and stems die down and the small tubers remain dormant, coming up again in late spring.

It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained soil. Plants do not require high light intensities. Prefers a pH between 6 and 7. A tuberous species, it is said to require greenhouse protection in Britain but plants are found at quite high elevations in the Himalayas and these provenances could be hardy in this country.

Propagation
:
Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse and keep the compost moist in a light position. The seed can be very slow to germinate, sometimes taking a year or more. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division Basal cuttings from tubers in spring.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.

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Leaves – raw or cooked. An acid flavour. The sour tasting leaf stalks and stems are pickled.
The stems and peduncles are succulent and sour and villagers prepare a tongue tingling sour chutney out of these parts of the plant.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses:
Anodyne; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Stomachic.

The juice of the plant is drunk to relieve headaches. The crushed leaves are used as a poultice on sore nipples. The root juice is used as an eyewash to treat conjunctivitis. It is also consumed in the treatment of peptic ulcers.


Other Uses

Mordant.

The juice of the plant is used as a mordant to fix the colours of vegetable dyes.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider
Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Begonia+picta
http://www.ganeshvilla.com/plants/begonia_picta.htm
http://www.ganeshvilla.com/portr/begonia_picta.htm

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