The tallest begonia species in all Asia found in Tibet, China

Chinese researchers have discovered the tallest Begonia recorded in Asia. The plant belongs to a new species aptly called Begonia giganticaulis and was described in the open-access journal PhytoKeys. In Tibet’s Mêdog county, China, the team found a Begonia so tall that they had to stand on top of their vehicle to measure it. The plant was 3.6 meters tall, with the thickest part of its ground stem close to 12 cm in diameter.

With over 2050 known species, Begonia is one of the largest plant genera. Since most begonias are small weeds, a begonia taller than a human is a very unusual sight. However, the newly discovered Begonia giganticaulis is one of the few exceptions.

In 2019, Dr. Daike Tian and his colleagues initiated a field survey on wild begonias in Tibet, China. On September 10, 2020, when Dr. Tian saw a huge begonia in full bloom during surveys in the county of Mêdog, he got instantly excited. After checking its flowers, he was confident it represented a new species.

From a small population with a few dozens of individuals, 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.

A Begonia giganticaulis plant is cut up for easier transportation
A Begonia giganticaulis plant is cut up for easier transportation. Photo by Daike Tian

To date, this plant is the tallest begonia recorded in the whole of Asia.

Begonia giganticaulis, recently described as a new species in the peer-reviewed 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.

The research team pose with a specimen of Begonia giganticaulis at the first Chinese begonia show in Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden.
The research team pose with a specimen of Begonia giganticaulis at the first Chinese begonia show in Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden. Photo by Meiqin Zhu

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. To our knowledge, this is the world’s largest specimen of a Begonia species. In October 2020, the visitors who saw it at the first Chinese begonia show in Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden were shocked by its huge size.

Currently, the staff of Chenshan Herbarium is applying for Guinness World Records for this specimen.

Research article:

Tian D-K, Wang W-G, Dong L-N, Xiao Y, Zheng M-M, Ge B-J (2021) A new species (Begonia giganticaulis) of Begoniaceae from southern Xizang (Tibet) of China. PhytoKeys 187: 189-205.https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.187.75854

All articles published in Pensoft journals at your fingertips with the Researcher app

Following a recent integration with the novel, social network-style research discovery app Researcher, the scholarly platform ARPHA has taken yet another step to ensure scholarly publications from across its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio are as easy to find and read as possible. Now, research papers published in all Pensoft’s and all other journals hosted on ARPHA Platform can reach the 1.8 million current users of Researcher directly on their smartphones.

Following a recent integration with the novel, social network-style research discovery app Researcher, the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA has taken yet another step to ensure scholarly publications from across its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio are as easy to find and read as possible. Now, research papers published in all Pensoft’s, as well as all other journals hosted on ARPHA, can reach the 1.8 million current users of Researcher directly on their screens.

Similarly to the world’s best known and used social media networks: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Researcher allows its users, scientists and academics, to follow their favourite scholarly journals and topics, in order to receive their content in a personalised newsfeed format, either on their phones or computers. Thus, they can stay up to date with the latest research in their scientific fields by simply scrolling down: much like what they are already used to in their everyday life outside academia. 

Similarly to the well-known social network apps, Researcher lets users bookmark papers to go back to later on and even invite friends to join the platform. Furthermore, the users can also synchronise their accounts with their ORCID iDs, in order to load their own papers on their profiles on Researcher. 

The Researcher app fetches new publications from all indexed journals several times a day, thus ensuring that a user’s newsfeed is updated in almost real time. Now, the ARPHA-hosted journals have joined the 17,000 academic outlets from across the sciences already sharing their publications on the app.

“At Pensoft, we are perfectly aware that good and open science practices go far beyond cost-free access to research articles. In reality, Open Science is also about easier findability and reusability, that is the probability one stumbles across a particular research publication, and consequently, cite and build on the findings in his/her own studies. By indexing our journals with Researcher, we’re further facilitating the discoverability of their content to the benefit of the authors who trust us with their work,”

says ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev.

“We share ARPHA’s belief that Open Science means more than just free access – it means giving scholarly and scientific content the best chance to get in front the right reader at the right time. Our mission is to make sure that scientists and researchers never miss vital research. This partnership will ensure that distribution to our users across the world is built into the ARPHA platform – boosting discoverability and smoothing the path to impact,”

adds Olly Cooper, CEO of Researcher.

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