Pelargonium tomentosum and its lovely hybrids

This peppermint scented leaf pelargonium can be added to cakes and beverages. It has delicate white flowers with purple markings on the upper petals and each branching flower stalks contains up to four to fifteen flowers which blooms during the beginning of Spring to Summer. The leaves are large and heart shaped with soft hairs which creates a velvety texture and is peppermint scented. P. tomentosum is native to the Western Cape where it grows in shady and moist areas mostly in narrow gorge forests fairly close to a river with rainfall during the winter months. This plant grows to about 50 centimetres in height and spreads over a large area, making it a lovely plant which grows well in  a medium to large sized pot.

The name tomentosum refers to the hairy leaves of this plant which is also used in essential oils, believed to have been brought to the gardens of Kew by Francis Masson a Scottish plant collector during the late 16th century from South Africa and has also grown naturally in Sicily for several years.

A hybrid of this species pelargonium includes P. tomentosum x P. quercifolium or possibly “Giant oak’ (a cultivar of P. quercifolium) known as chocolate peppermint which was created during the late 1900’s and gets its name from the chocolate zone in the centre of the velvety peppermint scented leaves that varies in colour from dark to light green. The flowers are light pink with purple markings on the upper petals and is Summer flowering, growing well in large containers.
It is crossed with Pelargonium quercifolium (pictured below) which has pinky purple to light pink flowers with darker purple markings on the upper petals, that are arranged on long flower stalks each containing up to six flowers, The leaves are balsam scented and resembles that of an oak leaf.
P. quercifolium is a upright branching plant which reaches a height of  about  175 cm’s and is native to parts of the Eastern and Western cape where it grows in rocky or cracked soil areas usually among sandstone, shale or limestone.  Its name quercifolium is derived from the Latin word “quercus” meaning having the leaves of a an oak leaf.

Pelargonium ‘giant oak’ like the pelargonium quercifolium has balsam scented leaves, dark green or dark brownish red with streaks. The flowers are light pinkish purple with darker veins on the upper petals.( Pictured below)

Another hybrid is crossed with Pelargonium tomentosum x P. tricolor called ‘Islington peppermint’ (below) which has attractive flowers with deep red upper petals and three white lowers petals. It is like a dwarf version of pelargonium tomentosum which grows to a height of 20 cm’s, the leaves are mint scented with soft hairs and a velvet texture.

P. Tricolor (pictured below) has quite a few flower colour variations similar to a wild pansy which ranges from deep red, white and pink upper petals with three white lower petals, the leaves are grey green narrow to oval with light hairs. This plant grows to about 30 cm’s in height and is native to the Eastern and Western Cape where it grows in dry areas in clay or sandy soil. The name tricolor refers to the three colours on the flowers, it was discovered by Francis Masson, the Scottish gardener and botanist during the late 1700’s, which was brought to the UK where it flowered and was then mentioned in the Botanical magazine in 1974.

Pelargonium ‘splendide’ is a hybrid of Pelaronium ovale and pelargonium tricolor, it has colourful pansy like flowers with deep purplish red upper petals and light pink lower petals which flowers during the Summer months. The leaves are grey green and narrow or oval with a velvety texture, It is an upright shrub-like pelargonium that grows well in pots, rock gardens and borders.

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