Begonia montiselephantis

An IUCN Red List Threatened Species, Begonia montiselephantis is classified as Critically Endangered. There are only eighty or so Begonias that have been evaluated under the IUCN criteria, many of which have a ‘data deficient’ designation.  So, it is not enough to say that because a species is not considered endangered, formally, that it is truly not endangered, as less than 5% of the total Begonia species have been evaluated.

Last accessed in 2011, an estimated 400-500 individual plants of B. montiselephantis are living in Cameroon.  It does not occur in any protected areas, and faces habitat destruction from mining and quarry construction. It occurs in a limited distribution of 4 square kilometers on Mt. Elephant, which is mined for iron ore. It is found on wet rock faces in evergreen forest. (info paraphrased from

Like some other African species, this one is incredibly slow to propagate with leaf cuttings! In my experience leaves will sit in potting media for at least 3-4 months before having any noticeable new growth. It takes 8 months or longer to have any leaves of mature size, and years to have a fully formed specimen. The plant below is about four years old.

The ovary of this species is very small in comparison to the rest of the flower anatomy.  I pollinated only one time, and while it appeared to be successful (the ovary swelled, dried on the plant, and was harvested when the stem was brittle), it yielded no viable seed.

Sometimes a leaf that is close to a growing medium will produce an explosion of new leaves along the parent leaf’s edges.  I never use any sort of Keiki paste or hormonal growth enhancement, but this looks to me like something that would have resulted from such an application.  The tiny leaves in the photo below are around six months old.  At some point, maybe in a year or two, the foliage will hopefully be large enough to begin separating plants out without damaging them too much.  At this stage, they are very sensitive to drying out and have no real roots of their own, and get all their nutrients from the parent leaf (likely why it is appearing in worse health- more yellow, some bronzing at the tip).

Patric Blanc has some incredible images of this species on his website, which I have not asked permission to use, so will just be posting the link to here.