Customs officials, take note that this post is based on legend and not necessarily fact.
My maternal grandfather was an Army officer and was twice stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, with his young family. On one of these tours of duty, family lore has it that my grandmother, Grace, became besotted with a begonia of such beauty, she simply had to have one of her own. And when it came time to make the journey back to the United States, that begonia was coming with her, come hell or high water.
Her solution: to smuggle cuttings of that begonia in her suitcase — amidst her unmentionables — during the journey (by boat, no less) back across the Atlantic.
To this day, nearly every female member of my family has at least one descendant of that immigrant begonia potted on a windowsill or taking root in in a jar. One of my aunts is rumored to be coddling no less than 32 cuttings at any given time, to ensure the line doesn’t die off.
This particular begonia plant produces tiny, delicate pink flowers on a rather irregular basis (at least according to my own experience). Here is a picture of buds my plant boasted earlier this summer.
After my mom died, I found one tiny begonia bud preserved in a flower press among her possessions. I included it in a scrapbook I just completed about her (pictured here with what I think is a Gerber daisy flower — these were her favorite).