Pelargonium oblongatum & its amazing hybrids

This charming pelargonium with its soft delicate shades of  yellow or cream coloured flowers are simple and elegant on long branching scapes, the larger upper petals have reddish purple veins and stamens that curve upwards making it easier for insects to pollinate it. The leaves are oval or rounded & toothed  as well as having a tuberous root which is partly above ground with layers of thin brown bark.
P. Oblongatum is native to the Northern cape where it grows in hot and dry areas of shrub land in the succulent Karoo, The leaves usually appear during the winter months after a rainy period at ground level while protecting the smaller succulents below, the flowers begin to bloom in October to November, but remains dormant during the Summer. The name oblong refers to long tuber of this plant which grows to a thickness of 15 cm’s, to which the whole shrub reaches a  height of about 30 cm’s, listed under the Hoarea section. This plant was first discovered by William John Burchell during his travels to South Africa, an explorer who collected thousands of specimens for the gardens of Kew.

A hybrid of this species pelargonium includes P. oblongatum x P. Fulgidum ( pictured right) which has striking pinkish red flowers with dark red veins, arranged on long flower stalks, the upper petals are much larger and rounded than the three lower petals, which are long and thin. The leaves are also smaller than that of  P. Oblongatum which have rounded teeth.

Another colour variation of Pelargonium oblongatum x fulgidum  has very pale pink flowers with dark pinkish red veins and light green sepals that are arranged on  long brownish red flower stalks ( pictured below)

It is crossed with Pelargonium fulgidum (pictured below) which has brightly coloured scarlet or pinky red flowers arranged on long flower stalks each having four to nine flowers. The leaves are oblong to cordate with very small greyish hairs that have a soft texture and three to six lobes that curve backwards. P. Fulgidum is a low growing plant which reaches a height of  about  40 to 100 cm’s and is native to the Western cape where it grows in sandy areas and hillsides usually among granite ,appearing in winter during the rainy season.  Its name fulgidum is derived from the Latin word “Fulgidus” meaning having brightly coloured flowers, to which many hybrids are descended from this plant.

Another hybrid is P. oblongatum x hystrix ( pictured below) which  has white flowers and dark reddish veins on the upper petals which fold backwards, the centre of the flower and sepals are light green with long stamens.

The hybrid is crossed with Pelargonium hystrix (below) which has white or light cream coloured flowers, with dark reddish veins on its narrow and rectangular petals. It is a low growing succulent like shrub with thick stems and continuous spikes or stipules, which is why this plant goes by the name hystrix  as it is derived from the word “hystrichos” meaning porcupine, the leaves are oval and pinnately divided.  
P. hystrix is native to the South Western cape and western parts of the Karoo. usually  growing  under larger plants or in dry areas when it is dormant during the Summer months. This plant was discovered by Francis Masson, the Scottish gardener and botanist during the 1700’s, which was brought to the gardens of Kew.

Other hybrids of Pelargonium oblongatum include:
P. oblongatum x radicatum- has about 15 or more small white flowers arranged on a long flowering stem, with reddish pink markings on the upper petals.
P. seifcifolium x oblongatum- has attractive bright purplely pink flowers with dark purple veins, the upper petals are much larger than the lower.
P. oblongatum x cucullatum- it has similar flowers to that of P. Cucullatum but they are much lighter in colour.

Book -Pelargoniums Diana miller

“unique Pelargoniums”

“Unique pelargoniums” are hybrids which originate from Pelargonium fulgidum, probably because of the brightly coloured flowers. Some hybrids have been developed to have larger & more showy flowers usually of reds, pinks and whites which can have splashes or veins of similar colours and bio colour leaves.

P. fulgidum has bright red scarlet flowers with long wavy leaves & soft hairs, native to the Western Cape in coastal areas. It is a low growing spreading shrub and is semi succulent.

This plant was presented to Holland during the 1800s and was later grown in Italian & English gardens. It is uncertain what other pelargonium species were used for hybridizing “unique” pelargoniums, possibly a white flower species.

During the mid 1800s A “white Unique” pelargonium ( originated from P. Fulgidum)  was hybrizated with “ old Unique” (Rollinson’s Crimson) pelargonium.

Unique hybrids include:

Stocks bill “white Unique” pelargonium- white with reddish markings.

Atrium- pale pink reddish flowers with crimson markings on the upper petals

bolero- large pink flowers with mahogany markings.

Mme Nonin- flowers pale lavender with white

Claret rock unique- bright red flowers with dark veins

Duchess of Devonshire- salmon pink flowers with mahogany markings

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire flowers were mentioned in the British florist: lady’s journal of horticulture, vol 2 1846 as follows:

“ Mr G. Hudson’s two seedlings pink of last year, the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire, again justifies the high character given to them and when more generally distributed cannot fail to be leading favourites”

It is uncertain if these are pelargoniums but they were noted as pinks first class (flowers), The Hudson’s Duke of Devonshire is said to have purple laced flowers but at the moment I cannot find any record of it.

flowers-18643 for facebook