This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V25", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The especial purposes for which the division of all living things into separate sexes was designed, has been stated by the writer of this in former writings and discourses, to be evidently as part of the plan which makes continuous variation lie at the bottom of the continual growth of new species in the world. Further, the writer has shown that the law which operates to produce the separate sexes, is in close alliance with nutrition. There have been enough illustrations given to show that the rule is for the female flowers to be placed where they are the best nourished, and just in proportion as the amount of nourishment to any particular part of a plant prevails, will the number of female flowers in that part excel.
It is always, however, the part of the true searcher for truth to make as prominent observations which seem to oppose his conclusions as those which do. Usually in begonias we find the rule prevail which we have indicated - that is, the male flowers appear on weaker stems than do the female. But we have now a species which seems to go on the contrary side. The female stems appear much weaker than the male ones. The female ones can be readily seen by the young seed vessels which are placed at the base of the petals. The male flowers have no such protuberance. A separate male and female flower is given, enlarged, at the base of the picture, the larger one with the numerous anthers in the centre being the male, and the smaller, with the pistils in its centre, being the female.
We have not yet had a chance to see this species in cultivation. It was introduced recently by Messrs. [. Veitch & Sons, who say of it:
"Begonia Socotrana, a species of remarkable interest both in its scientific and in its horticultural aspect, discovered in the island of Socotra by Dr. J. B. Balfour, from whom we acquired our stock.
"Begonia Socotrana is a plant of very neat habit, with erect stems eight to twelve inches high, furnished with orbicular peltate leaves four to seven inches in diameter, and producing a profusion of bright rose-pink flowers, of which the males are fully two inches in diameter. Its great recommendation is its very free blooming character, and its flowering in the depth of winter, when other begonias are at rest, thus prolonging the decorative season of these beautiful plants."