Zonal & Regal pelargoniums


In 1916 a new phrase of Zonal and regal pelargonium hybrids were presented in The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (vol 5) by the American botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey who is said to be the father of rural sociology and journalism.

Liberty grew up on the family farm in Michigan and was the third son of Liberty Hyde Bailey Sr & Sarah Harrison, They made their own produce and were very skilled in their craft creating new farming methods, soon gaining awards for their work.

Liberty gained a lot of experience on the farm, attending the Michigan agricultural collage in 1878 and later in 1884 became a professor and chairman of the Horticulture and Landscape gardening department.

In the late 1800s Liberty Hyde Bailey wrote papers on Cross breeding hybridizing in 1892.

Pelargonium x hortorum (meaning belonging to a household) is a hybrid between P. Zonale and P. inquians mainly for the purpose of an ornamental shrub and is now found in most garden centers  & florists around the world. The flowers are more showy and brightly coloured, tightly formed inflorescent flowers of pink, white or red and horseshoe zoned leaves.

Pelargonium Zonale was first discovered in 1689 in the Western Cape, South Africa and was then brought to Europe, the first recorded Pelargonium Zonal in cultivation was grown by the Duchess of Beaufort who loved exotic plants and built up a collection.The Duchess employed an artist to paint all her plants and had them listed in a catalogue, Pelargonium zonal was included.

Pelargonium x domesticum, (meaning domesticated plant), regal pelargonium or the Matha Washington geranium is a hybrid from Pelargonium cucullatum and possibly several species pelargoniums. The flowers come in many shades including pink. Red, purple and  black, some with darker markings, splotches or stripes.

Pelargonium Cucullatum was discovered at the Cape by the Botanist Paul Hermann.



Anthony Hove- botanist & plant collector

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During the time of plant exploration Anthony Pantaleon Hove (originally Anton Hoveau) travelled to various countries around the world including India, Crimea, Persia, Africa and possibly Australia to collect seeds and plants to transport to Kew gardens.

Anthony was a Polish gardener, botanist and plant collector from Warsaw who worked at Kew, The Hovea plant (purple pea) a shrub from Australia was named in his honour.

During his travels to India in the late 1700, he spent some of his time in the South Western Coast of Africa near to Angra bay where he collected seventeen pelargonium species, but unfortunately only three survived, these include:

P. crassicaule- a succulent pelargonium with white flowers and reddish markings on the upper petals with a slight sweet fragrance, it has thick brown stems & silky wavy leaves.

P. cortusifolium-a succulent pelargonium with white upper petals & purple pink lower petals, it has thick stems and silky narrow heart shaped leaves.

P. ceratophyllum- another succulent pelargonium with white flowers and dark pink markings and red stamens, the leaves are long triangular with a succulent appearance.


They are listed in the Hortus Kewensis catalogue of plants cultivated in the royal botanic gardens at Kew as follows:

-Horn leaved Cranes bill of South West coast of Africa introduced to Kew in 1786 by Anthony Hove

-Cortusa leaved cranes bill of South West coast of Africa introduced in 1786 by Anthony Hove

-Thick Stalk’d cranes bill from the coast of South West of Africa introduced in 1786 by Anthony Hove