Pelargonium peltatum

P. peltatum is a climbing or trailing slightly succulent pelargonium with leaves that resemble an ivy leaf which are rounded and fleshy, it has many medicinal properties such as the sap can be taken for a sore throat and the leaves when grinded into a paste can be applied to scratches, light burns and wounds as an antiseptic.

This plant is said to be the original ancestor where all the peltatum hybrids originated from, Willem Adriann van stel was governor of the Cape colony from 1699 to 1707 which was created by the Dutch East India company for their ships to arrive before their long journey to the East and to supply them with food and water. Willem Adriann Van Stel sent plants & seeds to Williem Comelin a botanist in the Netherlands, one of those plants was Pelargonium peltatum.

Jan Comelin got together with burgomaster Johan Huydeoper Van Maarsseveen the master of the town and decided to build a botanical garden known as Hortus Medicus (later known as Hortus Botanicus), now one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world which contains more than six thousand tropical and indigenous plants & trees. Herbs which were transported and grown in the botanical gardens were sold to hospitals and apothecaries. Comelin also published many works including “Hortus Malabaricus of Reede’, ‘Nederlandse flora in 1683 and ” Hori Medici Amstelodamensis Rariorum’ 1697 which included plants from the East and West Indies.

peltatum flower pink

Pelargonium salmoneum

P.elargonium salmoneum has elegant salmon pink flowers with darker veins on the upper petals and thick yellowish green semi succulent leaves that fold upwards. It prefers well drained sandy/loam soil conditions (PH acid/neutral) in full sun and may need cutting back every alternate year to create a more spreading & leafy growth and a fertilizer containing seaweed once a week (optional) during the Autumn.

It is uncertain where P. salmoneum originates from, possibly the Eastern Cape as it was collected here by Henry G Flanagan a South African farmer and plant collector during the 1800s. This plant was also grown in the communal garden in port Elizabeth during the 20th century, but by some it is regarded as a hybrid although it has characteristics of a species pelargonium.

In 1732 a plant similar to P. salmoneum was mentioned by Johann Jacob Dillenius a German botanist possibly in the botanical papers of Hortus Elthamensis a catalogue of rare plants describing a pelargonium with yellowy green waxy leaves and and light red flowers. Robert Sweet an English botanist and horticulturist also mentioned that Johann Jacob Dillenius plant description was a hybrid of P. zonale and P. inquinans known as Pelargonium x hybridum (Kew 1789) but the Leaves and flowers differ from P. salmoneum so the mystery still remains.

p.salmoneum2 small watermarked