The Begonia genus is extensive, with some 1,500 species, and very popular in gardening as an indoor and outdoor plant in warm climates (around 10,000 varieties and hybrids are estimated). They are generally small in size, although there are species that can grow to well over 1.5 metres, and have spectacular blooms. The name of the genus was coined in honour of Michel Bégon, a French seafarer who was governor of Haiti in the 17th century and a botanical collector.
There are thousands of varieties and cultivars, many obtained by hybridisation between different species from Asia, Africa and America. One of the most common hybrid varieties is the so-called 'dragon wing', with deep pink or red flowers, obtained from B. cucullata (literally 'hooded' Begonia because of the shape of its flowers, and often known as B. semperflorens), and B. descoleana, both native to South America.
The flowers of begonias are usually deep pink in colour, although they can vary from almost white to red, and under the right conditions they can bloom almost all year round.