Polka Dot Begonia
Julian's wife is partial to old-fashioned house plants, like African violets and begonias. This is one of the plants in her collection. It's a variety of begonia they acquired from a greenhouse in Connecticut. Further details of its pedigree are lost.
Begonias are often grown for their showy flowers, which have been hybridized for size and a wide range of brilliant colors. It's begonias that make up the vibrant tapis de fleurs in Brussels's Grand-Place every other August.
But there are other varieties, grown more for their foliage. This odd polka-dot beauty is one of them. It's one of the cane-type or "angel wings," several varieties of which have spots. This one is particularly appealing because the spots look like they have been painted on--something about the irregularity of the splotches and the sharp contrast between the green of the leaves and the white of the spots.
The begonia is a native of the West Indies, named for Michel Bégon, governor of Santo Domingo in the early 18th century. They're wildly popular in Belgium, where most of the world's tuberose begonias are cultivated. (Those are the small plants with waxy leaves and big, brilliantly colored blooms.)
Although I love flowers, I've never been much into begonias myself. Till just recently, that is, with the Brussels carpet of flowers and now this spindly little guy bringing them to my attention. I'm even thinking of talking Julian out of a cutting of his polka-dotted specimen. Makes me wonder what other things in which I have little current interest might be my passions this time next year.