Butterfly pelargonium


Pelargonium papilionaceum meaning butterfly because of its large beautiful & elegant pink flowers that resemble a butterfly in appearance with purple markings in the center.
It grows to about 2 meters with heart shaped shallow lobed leaves that are scented but can have a strong and unpleasant fragrance, although the lovely flowers makes up for this, Each flowering stork contains 5-10 flowers. P. papilionaceum has been grown in cultivation since the 1700s and the leaves are also used as a substitute for tobacco. It is native to areas on the edge of forests in the South Western and Southern Cape.

P. ionidiflorum

p-ionidiflorumP. ionidiflorum is a small & beautiful woody pelargonium that grows to about 40cm. The brightly coloured flowers are light pink to dark violet in colour with deep red markings on the upper petals, the name of this particular plant is taken from the Greek word “ion” meaning the colour violet and “florum” meaning flower in Latin. The delicate scented leaves are soft, bright green elliptic and divided.
This pelargonium is fairly common and in its native habitat it mostly grows in rocky areas of the Eastern Cape, it prefers dry soil conditions and can grow in hanging baskets, rock gardens, window boxes or as a border.
This plant has also created some lovely cultivars in the USA when hybridized with P. dichondrifolium, P. australe and P. odoratissimum to produce Lavender lad, Lavender lass and also Lilac lady.

Pelargonium name history

geraniaceae-watercolour-webThe name Pelargonium was originally classified as a Geranium in the early years of discovery but the botanical name was later suggested by Dillenius in his botanical works and illustrations which included 7 species of Geraniums from South Africa and was based on the Greek word pelargo’s because the seed head has the appearance of a storks beak. Johannes burman a Dutch botanist and physician in 1753 mentioned the differences in species and organized them into the same genus Geranium, The name Pelargonium however was not actually established until Charles Louis L’H’eriter de Brutelle a French botanist and magistrate classified the pelargonium by the quantity of stamens in the flower, in which most pelargoniums have seven and divided them into two different genera. De Candolle in 1824 again split the genus into 12 different sections to show the different types of pelargoniums, some having longer petioles, thicker roots or leaf shapes etc, later extended to 16 sections by Knuth 1912.
The sections include Campylia, Chorisma, Cicronium, cortusina,Glaucophyllum,Hoarea,Isopetalum, Jenkinsonia,Ligularia,Myrrhidum,Otidia,Pelargonium,Peristera de Candolle,Polyactium de candolle,Reniforme,Subsucculentia

Rare pelargoniums


Many new Pelargonium species have only just been recently discovered, a number of these are either rare or endangered in different regions of South Africa and are not seen in cultivation. Some rarer types can be unusual in appearance and have beautiful flowers or foliage.
P. griseum was discovered in 1861, the unusual but lovely flowers have 4 petals which are pink with tints of purple, the upper petals are folded over at the top which gives it the appearance of a tube, and the flower also has long stamens . It is a low growing shrub that is slightly woody and has grey green leaves.
P. quinquelobatum is not quite so unusual as the P. griseum but the graceful flowers are different in colour than most pelargoniums that you see, which are yellowy green-blue grey in colour and the upper petals have pale pink markings, The leaves also are blue green in colour and is native to areas of Tanzania,Kenya and Ethiopia.
P. tragacanthoides is similar to the P. griseum but the attractive flowers are white in colour with deep purple markings on the upper petals which fold back to give the appearance of a cube, the feather like leaves are highly scented and are used for medicinal purposes in areas of South Africa mostly around the Eastern Cape,
P. auritum has small deep purple and white flowers that have narrow petals and stamens that look like a star in the center, it is native to South Western Cape Province.