Every day, visitors marvel at the thousands of plant specimens on display in our exhibition greenhouses, but behind the scenes, in our conservation greenhouses, our specialized horticulturists accomplish other remarkable tasks that the public rarely gets a chance to see up close. Part of our mission includes the cultivation and preservation of rare and newly discovered plant species. The Jardin botanique de Montréal has been growing two species of begonias that have been identified as new species within the last year – Begonia henrilaportei Scherberich & J. Duruisseau and Begonia nosymangabensis Scherberich & J. Duruisseau.
From Madagascar to Montréal: a legacy from dedicated collectors
These two species, belonging to the genera Begonia, are endemic to the island nation of Madagascar, where plant life is exceptionally diverse and where the natural environment is threatened by deforestation. Both Henri Laporte and Jacky Duruisseau, notable begonia collectors from France, introduced Begonia henrilaportei into cultivation as early as 1998 and again in 2009 respectively after travelling to the region on collecting trips. Jacky Duruisseau, along with David Scherberich, head of science and collections at the Jardin botanique de Lyon, worked on a project to describe and illustrate these two new begonia species. Their findings were recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Candollea.
Begonia henrilaportei and Begonia nosymangabensis are cultivated at the Jardin botanique de Lyon in France and have now been grown from seed, with success, at the Jardin botanique de Montréal, thanks to an international partnership.
For our team, it is not uncommon to collaborate with botanists, collectors and other horticulture professionals from all over the world to acquire, preserve, study and raise awareness of the importance of plants. Janique Perreault, Specialized Horticulturist responsible for the Begonia and Gesneriad Collection, has developed valuable partnerships with begonia collectors in France, namely Jacky Duruisseau, the Jardin botanique de Lyon and the Conservatoire du begonia de Rochefort. After receiving seeds from Mr. Duruisseau, Janique Perreault has successfully cultivated these two species of begonias in a terrarium within our conservation greenhouse.
Both Begonia henrilaportei and Begonia nosymangabensis require high humidity and warmth to thrive. Since these plants require a specialized degree of care, they are grown in our conservation facilities and are not presented to the public. Although we are committed to providing public education, and often display our collections to the public, conservation is another pillar of our mission here at the Jardin botanique de Montréal. Therefore, some of our more fragile specimens are safeguarded, under the care of our horticulturists, in a suitably adapted environment.