Better known to most readers as a house plant, the begonia has one of the largest varieties of any plant – 2,050 so far.
In Tibet begonias grow wild and a group of researchers have discovered what they think is the largest yet.
In 2019, Dr. Daike Tian and his colleagues initiated a field survey and the results are astonishing,
Dr. Tian collected two of the tallest ones to measure them and prepare specimens necessary for further study. One of them was 3.6 meters tall, the thickest part of its ground stem close to 12 cm in diameter.
To measure it correctly, he had to ask the driver to stand on top of the vehicle. In order to carry them back to Shanghai and prepare dry specimens, Dr. Tian had to cut each plant into four sections.
To date, this plant is the tallest Begonia recorded in the whole of Asia.
Begonia gigantica, recently described as a new species in the open-access journal PhytoKeys, grows on slopes under forests along streams at elevation of 450–1400 m. It is fragmentally distributed in southern Tibet, which was one of the reasons that its conservation status was assigned to Endangered according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.
After being dried at a herbarium and mounted on a large board, the dried specimen was measured at 3.1 m tall and 2.5 m wide.
Currently, the staff of Chenshan Herbarium is applying for Guinness World Records for this specimen.