Almost all Indonesian peoples who love outdoor activities knew that Begonia is delicious and used it as survival food.  The sour taste of root, stem, leaves, and flower of Begonia is very famous and popular to become one of the wild edible plant in Indonesia.

Begonia is a perennial plant with a succulent stem and has some flower colors; pink, red, orange, yellow, and white depending on the species.  Begonia is an Asian indigenous plant (Originally came from tropical and subtropical regions)  The natural habits of almost all Begonia species is a mostly moist condition in the base of the tropical rain forest.

History behind the name

There are opinions that the genus name, Begonia is coming from the Governor from a French colony in Haiti (some literature also mentions that he is a botanist), his name is Michel Begon. But in other literature also mention that Begonia was found by Charles Plumier. Taxonomically, Begonia is a dicot and belong to Begoniaceae family member. 

Begoniaceae has almost 2000 species, which mostly from the genus Begonia.  Indonesia as the center of origin, has around 500 species, with some species was indigenous from Indonesia.  It makes Indonesia become one of the richest centers of Begonia in the world.

Begonia Is Favorite Ornamental Plant

Recently, many domesticated Begonias become a valuable ornamental plants in the world.  Many commercial varieties developed by plant breeders using germplasm from around the world.  As a result, now we can see Begonia with the interesting appearance of leaves and flowers.

Some scientific works have been doing to study some chemicals compounds of Begonia such as saponins, flavonoids, and polyphenols related to the usage for medicinal purposes.  But, the report about detail indigenous Begonias is still limited.  The scientist also mentions the possibilities to use some Begonias species s anti-inflammation and fever or cough treatment.

Some common Begonia in the Indonesian rain forest, most of them are edible plant

Indonesia has many native species which the potential to become germplasm for plant breeding programs.  The diversity of Begonia in Indonesia also increased with many Begonia from some countries/continents.  Many works and scientific research have published in order to explore and identify the diversity of native Begonia in Indonesia.  Pictures below are the list of some wild Begonia species which we can found easily in the Indonesian rain forest?:

begonia survival edible plants

Some species which also reported exist in Indonesia are; Begonia leuserensis, Begonia stictopoda, Begonia sublobata, Begonia teysmanniana, Begonia laruei, Begonia pseudoscottii, Begonia flexula, Begonia verecunda, Begonia semperflorens, Begonia bracteata, B. muricata.

Begonia as a wild edible plant in Indonesia is easy to identify

Even we knew that there are many species of Begonia, but when we see the wild, actually is not difficult to recognize and identify.  When we are in the moist areas, near to the brooks, or around the waterfall, usually we can find one of the Begonia species. We can see the similarity in the leaf’s appearances, branches, and flowers.

All of the begonia’s organs are edible. The stem is a common part. You can eat it directly. The taste is sour but fresh because a lot of water content in it. The flower is also edible. You can use the begonia’s flowers as a garnish in your salad.

Categories: Edible

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses


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