Pelargonium triste- the Morin brothers

Pelargonium Triste was the first recorded pelargonium to travel to Europe & was taken to the botanical gardens of Leiden by the Dutch East India company (VOC).

The seventeenth century was the beginning of plant exploration and collecting from around the world, During the mid 1600s Pierre Morins was a gardener, florist and a distributor of plants and seeds some of which were said to be some of the rarest from around the globe.

He created a garden in Paris at the Faux bourg saint-Germain proche la charite.

According to the diarist John Evelyn Pierre’s garden was oval in shape with cypress trees possibly shaped and flat top pruned, The garden was filled with crocus, anemones, tulips, ranunculus and wild butterflies.

garden of pierre morin small

Evelyn wrote on the 4th April 1644 “Morin was a person who from an ordinary gardener has arrived to be one of the most skill ful & curious persons of France for his rare collection of shells, flowers and insects”.

His brother Rene Morin had the same occupation as Pierre and owned a separate plant nursery and specialised in tuberous plants such as tulips, hyacinths, colchicums, narcissi, lily and a wide range of plants, shrubs and ferns from around the world.

It is uncertain when and how Rene died but I believe after his death many of his plants, Pierre received and added to his own garden.

Rene was the first to have the printed plant catalogue in France to show his large selections of plants to Europe in 1621.

Pelargonium triste was included in Rene Morin’s garden, John Tradescant (the elder) bought this plant from Rene along with many other plants including Tulips, sprekelia, ranunculus and anemones.

Some were believed to be bought back to the gardens of Kew in 1629 and 1631.

Pierre also grew the May apple known as the podophyllon in his garden and even named the plant Anapodophyillon (meaning wild ducks foot in Greek) maybe because of its thick stems which was mentioned in the Hortus Cliffortianus 1737 p202, the name Anapodophyillon was later changed to podophyllon. ( Podophyllon is later said to have been cultivated in Kew gardens).

The Morin brothers later had the plant genus Morina named after them, (Morina longifolia which is native to the Himalayas, It is a tall plant with prickly leaves & Spikes with white/pink flowers.



A seventeenth century Paris garden, prudence Leith Ross garden history vol.21 no.2 pp 150-157

Journal of American horticultual society April 1954 Vol 31 No 2 p 173

Pelargonium triste


Pelargonium triste now has new growth after being dormant through most of the Summer.
P. triste is a Summer deciduous tuberous plant with light green carrot like leaves and  has yellow flowers which only open at night.
This plant was the first recorded pelargonium to be taken Europe, to the botanical gardens of Leiden by the VOC and could withstand long voyages by ship.

pelargonium history

Pelargoniums were first introduced into Europe during the 1600s when new discoveries and trade routes began to unfold,
P.triste was the first recorded pelargonium to travel to Europe and was taken to the gardens of Leiden by the Dutch East India company followed by many more newly discovered pelargoniums.
The Countess of Strathmore collected many South Africa plants including Pelargoniums and sent William Paterson a Scottish Soldier & botanist to collect plants for her from 1777 to 1779.
During the Victorian era pelargoniums became increasingly popular & greatly admired and were often kept in greenhouses and conservatories, many new hybrids were being created to appear more colourful and showy. After world war 1 & 2 these plants started to fall into decline.
Over the decades these amazing plants are now returning their popularity.
This image is of Pelargonium scintillans (sparkling stock’s bill) from an old book from www.artscult.comflowers-18867