Begonia is a genus of flowering perennials that features more than 1,200 species and hybrids of varying colors, shapes and sizes. Begonias originated in many tropical and subtropical locations, including South and Central America, southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Begonias are named for Michel Begon, patron to Charles Plumier, who first discovered begonias in Santo Domingo. The French botanist was exploring the Dominican Republic in 1690 when he identified the plant.
One of the most commonly grown begonias, the wax begonia, is native to Brazil. The wax begonia produces colorful flowers throughout the summer, and was grown extensively in Victorian-era gardens. Many species of begonia originated in Mexico, including B. carolineifolia, which is low and creeping, and B. crassicaulis, which has distinctive swollen stems.
Most begonias with yellow blooms originated in Africa; many of them are designated as endangered. Species of begonias also come from all over Southeast Asia, from Myanmar to Fiji.