Somewhat Strange & unusual pelargoniums

Pelargonium bowkeri has a somewhat strange yet impressive flowers, white to yellowy pink or purplish veins with feather like lower petals which forms an inflorescence of up to twelve flowers which blooms in Summer during the rainy period and is scented at night. It also has a tuberous root which stores water that grows to about 3 cm across. The leaves are feathery which is why it is also known as the carrot leaved pelargonium and is native to the Eastern cape, Kwazula-Natal where it grows in grassland or in rocky areas.

Pelargonium auritum has unusual & attractive flowers, which differ in colour depending on the variation. P. auritum var. auritum has dark purple black petals with red anthers and orange pollen and P. auritum var. carneum has white to light pink petals, which form an inflorescence of up to 6 flowers. It has a caudex tuber which grows to about 3 and a half cm across and is dormant in Summer, flowering from September until January The leaves are ellipse or lance-like in shape and is native to the Western and Eastern Cape.

P. antidysentericum has white, purple or pale purple flowers with deep purple streaks on the two upper petals which are larger than the lower and has orange pollen. This plant has a caudex tuber which grows to a thickness of 14 cm and is a turnip-like in shape, becoming woodier with age, the stems range from dark to light brown and the leaves grow on clusters of short branch-lets which are kidney-shaped with rounded lobes, some have a zone. It is native to the Northern Cape where it grows on mountainsides, shrubland, ravines and close to water. It was given the name antidysentericum because it was used as a cure against dysentery.

Pelargonium praemorsum is also known as the five-fingered pelargonium which has rather unique flowers, they are white to cream in colour with the upper petals being considerably larger than the lower petals with reddish or reddish-brown streaks, forming an inflorescence of 1-2 flowers. This plant is a weedy shrub let that is dormant in Summer, it also has a trunk that grows larger as it ages with narrow semi-succulent stems. The leaves are deeply divided, kidney-shaped or rounded and have a spicy sweet-scent.

P. klinghardtense is a somewhat strange but curious pelargonium with chunky succulent knotted stems. This plant doesn’t require much water and grows in rocky deserts in full sun, the flowers are white and contain five yellowy-green sepals on long branching stems. During the summer P. klinghardtense is dormant and loses its leaves which are large and glaucous. It is native to the Northern Cape and southern Namibia, to which it was given the name “Klinghardtense” because of the location where it was first discovered on the Klinghardt mountains.

Pelargonium punctatum also has extraordinary flowers, light yellow to light beige with elongated upper petals and dark reddish dots or markings, the three smaller lower petals also have red dots which flower in winter (October to the beginning of November). It has a caudex tuber which can grow to about 8cm and simple ovate leaves. This plant is native to Southern parts of Namaqualand and the Western Karoo where it grows in shrubland, hilltops and mountain ranges. The name “punctatum” refers to the red dots on the flower petals.


Pelargonium nephrophyllum has delicate pastel pink to salmon pink flowers and peachy red lines and blotches, with two larger upper petals and three smaller lower petals containing 5 stamens with orange pollen and long pink anthers, the flowers usually come up before new growth appears after being dormant in Summer.
It has unusual kidney shaded leaves with scalloped leaf margins & a turnip shaped tuber which can grow to approximately 2 cm and grows during the winter which is native to Southern Namaqualand, South Africa in sandy shrub land areas, stony reddish pink soil or in between hills.
This plant was given its name in 1992 by Elizabeth M, Marais and is of the Hoarea section also its national status is endangered.

Flower of the month-Pelargonium asarifolium

pelargonium asarifolium

Pelargonium asarifolium is a lovely winter growing species that flowers at the beginning of Summer (November to May) and has a caudex (a thickening stem for water storage) that can grow to 6 cm’s in width with fairly long petioles (15-90 mm) and heart shaped deep green leaves. The flowers are light yellow to cream in colour with deep purple to red feather like markings and contains five stamens on each flower with reddish brown sepals, on long branching flower stalks.

This plant was given the name “asarifolium” because of the feather like delicate lines on the flower petals, to which the name was chosen by George or David Don in 1831.
This plant is native to South Western areas of South Africa where it grows on stony sandy clay soils on sloping ground or on flat ground growing under larger plants, from Piketberg, Porterville and onwards to Sir Lowry’s pass & Worchester.

P. asarifolium when fully grown can grow to a height of 15 to 30 cm’s, the heart shaped leaves look similar to that of wild ginger (Asarum) of the Birthwort family which is not actually a ginger plant but was commonly called this because the rhizome smells and tastes much like that of a ginger root and is a low growing herb native to North America, East Asia and Europe.

Flower of the month- Pelargonium echinatum


Pelargonium echinatum also known as the prickly stemmed pelargonium has lovely showy white, pink or purple flowers with darker markings on the upper petals on long flower stalks which contains around 3-8 flowers and encourages bees and other insects, The leaves are slightly hairy, greyish green and heart shaped. This plant has a tuberous root and a greyish swollen stem with a number of grey branches with thorny stipules and if cared for well can have a 20 year life span.

The name echinatum is derived from the Latin for spiny stipules which are on the stems of this plant and is native to South Africa mostly from the Northern Cape and in areas of the North of Clan William in dry rocky, stony and sandy areas. P. Echinatum is deciduous in Summer and during this time can absorb the sunlight through its stems instead of the leaves. There are a number of different flower colour types in its native habitat and also a few new species or hybrids derived from them such as “Miss Stapleton” which has purplish pink flower petals and suggested to be a cross between P. Echinatum and P. cortusifolium.
Pelargonium echinatum is said to be one of the loveliest pelargoniums to flower during the winter which also grows well in a pots or planted in the garden. It prefers sandy, loam & clay soil, PH neutral in semi shade or full sun.
This plants flowering times can vary depending on if it is grown in the wild or in cultivation, in the wild it can flower from May to November and in Cultivation from June to October.

Flower of the month- Pelargonium hirtum

p. hirtum sketch latest

Pelargonium hirtum has lovely purplish magnolia to pink flowers which attracts butterflies and bees, the leaves are finely divided and hairy with many leaflets which resembles a carrot leaf and is slightly aromatic.
It is a semi succulent shrub with fleshy upright stems which grows to about 30 cm in height with a bushy growth & the delicate flower stalks contain 3-8 flowers.
P hirtum grows well in pots and as ground cover, in rock gardens or/and on sandy soils in full sun to part shade in acid neutral type soil.
This plant is native to the Eastern Cape where it grows among stone ledges, slopes and sandy areas.

Pelargonium hirtum also known as the fine leaved pelargonium has been grown in the gardens of Europe since the late 1700s.
The name hirtum is derived from the Latin word “ hirtus” meaning shaggy, hairy or with thick growth, this refers to the hairy leaves of this plant.

Angel pelargoniums

The angel pelargoniums are hybrids believed to be derived from P. crispum a lemon scented pelargonium and P. grossularioides a fruit scented pelargonium.

Although they have almost certainly been crossed several times with hybrids such as the regal and other pelargonium species with one of its parents or closely related types.

It was named the Angel pelargonium pelargonium by Dereck Clifford because they looked similar to Pelargonium dumosum which was illustrated and described by Sweet, the Latin name “Dumus” meaning house of the church which may have had some reference to Angel.

Pelargonium crispum may have been crossed with a hybrid known as ” the Shar” but this is not certain, The first known pelargonium Angels to be created was by Arthur Langley Smith who produced many with pink, white and pale purple flowered varieties with veins and patterned markings. Arthur was a school teacher who lives in London, he named one of his creations ” Mrs G H Smith” a white flowered pelargonium with blushes of bright pink after his wife of the same name.

Angel pelargoniums such as P. crispum angel eyes still have leaves that are very similar to P. crispum and are usually scented, the species pelargonium  P crispum has fan shaped crisped edged leaves that are lemon scented and is used for essential oil and potpourri. This plant is native to South Africa in the Western Cape where it grows in sandy rocky areas, on mountainsides and hills.

P. tritidum is also believed to have been used to create the hybrid angel pelargonium which was introduced to Kew gardens in the late 1700s by Masson. It is also known as the brittle stalked pelargonium because it has delicate thin stems and bright green leaves which are divided into 2-3 leaflets and has a strong unpleasant fragrance, the flowers are white with deep purple markings native to the Western and Eastern Cape.

The angel pelargonium “hybrid”Henry Weller” which has large dark purple pansy like flowers with a white outline, has similar leaves and long flower stems to P. grossularioides a fruit scented pelargonium with leaves that closely resembles a gooseberry leaf which is kidney shaped, the flowers are small and reddish purple and is native to coastal areas of South Africa and also further inland in the Eastern Cape.

Zonal & Regal pelargoniums


In 1916 a new phrase of Zonal and regal pelargonium hybrids were presented in The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (vol 5) by the American botanist Liberty Hyde Bailey who is said to be the father of rural sociology and journalism.

Liberty grew up on the family farm in Michigan and was the third son of Liberty Hyde Bailey Sr & Sarah Harrison, They made their own produce and were very skilled in their craft creating new farming methods, soon gaining awards for their work.

Liberty gained a lot of experience on the farm, attending the Michigan agricultural collage in 1878 and later in 1884 became a professor and chairman of the Horticulture and Landscape gardening department.

In the late 1800s Liberty Hyde Bailey wrote papers on Cross breeding hybridizing in 1892.

Pelargonium x hortorum (meaning belonging to a household) is a hybrid between P. Zonale and P. inquians mainly for the purpose of an ornamental shrub and is now found in most garden centers  & florists around the world. The flowers are more showy and brightly coloured, tightly formed inflorescent flowers of pink, white or red and horseshoe zoned leaves.

Pelargonium Zonale was first discovered in 1689 in the Western Cape, South Africa and was then brought to Europe, the first recorded Pelargonium Zonal in cultivation was grown by the Duchess of Beaufort who loved exotic plants and built up a collection.The Duchess employed an artist to paint all her plants and had them listed in a catalogue, Pelargonium zonal was included.

Pelargonium x domesticum, (meaning domesticated plant), regal pelargonium or the Matha Washington geranium is a hybrid from Pelargonium cucullatum and possibly several species pelargoniums. The flowers come in many shades including pink. Red, purple and  black, some with darker markings, splotches or stripes.

Pelargonium Cucullatum was discovered at the Cape by the Botanist Paul Hermann.



Anthony Hove- botanist & plant collector

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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

Pelargonium curviandrum

Pelargonium curviandrum has lovely white to cream coloured flowers with dark red feathery marks on the upper narrow petals containing 4 stamens on a long flower stalk.

It is a tuberous plant which is dormant in the Summer months with soft hairy leaves which are oval in shape and grow at ground level forming a rosette of leaves at the base of the stem.

P. curviandrum is native to the Southern Cape in areas of the Little Karoo on mountainsides, sandstone, clay slopes and hill sides

pelargonium curviandrum painting

Pelargonium pseudofumarioides

Pelargonium pseudofumarioides also known as the false fumitory storks bill is a lovely and fascinating plant with finely divided leaves which are mid to darkish green in colour with a reddish tint.

The flowers are light cream to pink in colour usually pinkish in the center with orange stamens, it is a low growing plant with spreading branches ideal for ground cover which has a woody tap root.

This plant is native to the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng where it grows in grasslands and is very hardy which can tolerate frost.

pelargonium pseudofumarioides flower and leaf