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
The pelargonium succulent varieties have a special charm of their own because of their simple geometric and sculptural shapes that succulents possess,even when they need more specialist care and dry and desert like conditions with bright sunlight they are still amazing plants to collect.
In cultivation they are usually grown in a green house and can be kept in containers using a commercial compost suitable for cacti types, but because of their hot & dry conditions they need to be kept well drained.
Most pelargonium succulents are known as Xerophyte, a type of succulent that can survive in hot dry conditions with little water which it stores in its thick fleshy trunk,stems or leaves that is called succulence. Some types lose their leaves in Summer when in dry conditions and become dormant, but when the Winter rains begin it starts to come back to life again and new leaves develop.
P. cortusifolium is native to Western Namiba, North Western South Africa and is Summer dormant.
It has long thick stems with heart shaped leaves and flowers that have white upper petals and pink lower petals.
P. desertorum is an aromatic shrub let with succulent stems,toothed leaves and white elegant flowers with pink in the center.
P. carnosum is native to Namibia, South Africa and has whitish thick fleshy stems when mature, the leaves are feathery in appearance and has white flowers.
P. klinghardtense is native to South western Namibia, North Western South Africa, it has thick succulent stems that can grow to 3 cms or more when mature, the flowers are white and are similar to an orchid flower in appearance.
P. crassicaule is native to Namaqualand South Africa and is a succulent shrub let with short thick dark brown stems that grows to 4 cms when mature, the leaves are wavy and silvery green, the flowers are pale dark pink.
P. cirthmifolium is native to Southern Namiba, North Western South Africa and is one of the most heavily built pelargoniums with thick and fleshy greeny yellow succulent stems that grow to 3 cms across, it is also slow growing and takes 5 years to grow to 1 meter, the flowers are white to pale pink and the small divided leaflet leaves create a ginger and nutmeg scent when crushed, it is also summer deciduous.