There are four main types of begonias; Superba Canes,
Intermediate type Canes, Rubra type Canes, and Mallet Canes.
Cane begonias are distinguished from the other types by their bamboo like stems. Most are free blooming and have large clusters of flowers, many are even ever blooming.
Many also have fragrance that is most detectable in the morning hours from female flower clusters.
There are four main types of begonias; Superba Canes, Intermediate type Canes, Rubra type Canes, and Mallet Canes. Previously the term angel wing was used to describe this type of begonia but that term has been replaced by the name cane-like, or cane for short, at least officially.
Note: the terms Intermediate and Rubra type are terms used by the author and not in common usage. Currently those types are called All Others which the author feels doesn’t sufficiently distinguish them)
A superba is a cane that has B. aconitifolia, B. sceptrum, or B. leathermanaie (formerly called B. plantanifolia) in its parentage and also has deeply lobed or cleft leaves. Most have leaves that have silver markings on them, a few are completely silver. Nearly all are tall growing vigorous plants but they can be pruned to manageable sizes. Representatives of this type are begonias such as B.’Irene Nuss’ and B. ‘Sophie Cecile’.
Intermediate Type Canes
Intermediate type canes would be all canes that fall somewhere between the Superba type and the Rubra type. Many of these have some superba blood but lack the deeply lobed or cleft leaves that distinguish the Superba type. However, most are lightly lobed, curly edged or have serrated margins to the leaf so aren’t strictly Rubra type either. They come in a range of sizes, shapes and silver or white markings. The markings range from spots and splashes to some having leaves entirely white or silver. Examples of this type are B.’Ripsaw’ and B. ‘Josephine’.
Rubra Type Canes
Rubra type canes are the most common type of canes and have leaves that have edges with no serration or are entire. This type of cane comes in the same range of sizes and colors as the previous two types. Many of the older types however have plain green or bronze leaves with no markings. This type also comes in the full range of sizes from low growing types to ones that grow ten feet tall if allowed to. Most are heavy blooming during the warm months of the year or everblooming. Examples of this type are B. “Orange Rubra’ and B. ‘Tom Ment’.
Mallet Type Canes
Mallet type canes are canes with unusual coloring or texture to the leaves. Nearly all of them are hybrids between canes and other begonia types such as shrubs or rexes. If the type was strictly adhired to there would actually only be four or five begonias that would be true mallets. These would be the original B. ‘Arthur Mallet’ and it’s progeny. That wouldn’t be much of a classification so I feel that all canes crossed with other types that resemble the original mallets should be included. Actually if they were all put into a distinctive shrub class that would be a more appropriate placement for them. That said, nearly all mallets have colorful leaves that are thin textured. They also are usually sparsely hairy. A few lack the rex like coloring but have the thin textured leaves with sparse hairs and are also cane x B. U062 so have been included in this class. Many of the newer mallets are hybrids between canes and B. U062. B. U062 is a shrub with mallet coloring to the leaves. Examples of this type are B.’Arthur Mallet’, B.’Don Miller’ and B.’Aya’
Credits / references:
Brad Thompson | Brad’s Begonia World
Pictured cane is Begonia ‘Miss Julie’ photo by Mike Flaherty