Pelargonium capitatum- scented leaf uses & hybrids

pelargonium capitatum-rose scented leaves

P. capitatum is a beautiful elegant pelargonium with delicate trailing stems which can look stunning in large pots. The attractive leaves are soft ovate & crinkled with a rose scent and bears lovely 10-12 mauve-pink flowers.
The highly scented perfume of rose released from its soft ovate leaves is simply beautiful when added to potpourri, fragrant pillows, or to add flavour to food & beverages such as cakes, desserts, pastry, sugar, bread, chocolates, jelly, jam, ice cream, ice cubes, rice pudding, syrup, salads tea, cocktails, lemonade, fruit drinks and much more.
Finger bowls with scented leaves were placed on the table during meals by the Victorians to keep their hand clean during each course. The Victorian sponge cake was also very popular during the 1800’s when scented leaves were added to the base of a tin with the mix added on top before baking, then removed when cool.
Rose or graveolens leaves were added to a regular sponge mix and P. tomentosum- peppermint-scented leaves to the chocolate flavoured sponge. The flowers can be candied and used to decorate cakes, they are edible and can look very attractive.

The long trailing stems of P. capitatum growing in a pot

Other scented leaf pelargoniums such as P. crispum, P. quercifolium, P. graveolens, P. tomentosum & P. citronellum which all have their own unique scented leaf fragrance can also be added to food & drinks as well as a several hybrids that are related to these species.
They can also be added to towels to keep its freshness and help to deter moths. Essential oil is extracted from its leaves and is often used in aromatherapy, candles, soap, perfume and skincare products. The soft leaves can also be applied to the hands to soften hard skin and scratches.

Attar of roses is a popular cultivar of P. capitatum, the pinnately lobed leaves have a stronger rose scent and are rougher in texture with fine hairs, the flowers are also smaller & pinker in colour. Attar means highly perfumed in Persian and refers to its strong rose-like scent on the leaves, essential oil is extracted from its leaves and are used as a substitute for rose essential because it is less expressive to produce.


Rober’s lemon rose has large lemony rose-scented triangular irregular three-lobed leaves which are grey-green and soft to the touch, the origins of this hybrid are unclear, possibly a cultivar of P. graveolens or a hybrid of P. capitatum x P. x limoneum, The flowers are purple-pink with darker markings and is also known as the tomato geranium because its leaves resemble that of a tomato plant.


P. ‘pink capitatum’ is a variety of P. Capitatum but with larger striking flowers of pale pink with shades of darker pink around the edges of the petals. The leaves look similar to that of P. capitatum which are lobed but the scent differs and has a sweet rose lemon elder flower fragrance. This plant is also said to bloom for many months of the year.


P. ‘round leaf rose’ is another capitatum variety, a sprawling plant with pink reddish flowers and darker red veins, the leaves are rounded, ruffled and slightly toothed with lemon rose scent.

P. x asperum is a hybrid between P. capitatum and P. radens, it is used commercially for its essential oil which is obtained from its leaves. It has white to pale pink flowers with darker markings and has deeply divided leaves with soft hairs with a mint rose scent.


P. ‘Atomic snowflake’ has pungent scented leaves which are three-lobed and edged with white, the flowers bear striking mauve colour flowers with darker markings and is great as a container plant or for a flower border.

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