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Begonia paulensis - "Spider web Begonia"

Begonia paulensis - the "Spider Web Begonia" - is one of the most handsome Begonia species!  This marvel of nature features large, ribbed leaves with a concentric, cobweb-like pattern.  Not only are the leaves fascinating but the flowers are too, if not downright bizarre - a picture of them is here.  This native of Brazil isn't seen in cultivation often and not commonly offered for sale.

Begonia paulensis - "Spider web Begonia"

Begonia paulensis is a low growing shrub-type Begonia.  Its distinctive, pleated leaves get quite large, growing up to 10 inches long.  The new growth and also the leaf stems are coated in attractive, soft hairs.   The plant doesn't seem to flower often in cultivation.  Its white petals have strange, red spikes on the back, looking sort of like a Venus Flytrap or a sea urchin.  This is a true species, not a cultivated hybrid.  It may be crossed with some other Begonias to create new & interesting cultivars.

Begonia paulensis - "Spider web Begonia"

The back side of the leaf

Begonia paulensis comes from subtropical climate in Brazil.  It grows well in mild temperatures, and reportedly does not enjoy high heat.  I don't know if it can survive frost, but it has handled temperatures in the 40s (6C).  It does well in a pot in a loose soil mix, such as 2 parts potting soil, 1 part fine orchid bark, and 1 part perlite or coarse sand.  Keep the soil evenly moist most of the time, but not soggy.  It grows well for me in bright, filtered light.  I have not tried it in strong sunlight and suspect that it won't like it.  Over about 50% humidity is best.  In the right conditions, it's an easy, long-lived plant.

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