Saturday, February 20, 2010

A special form of Pelargonium alchemilloides

Cliking on the pic will enlarge it so you can better view the relatively large flowers of this form of P. alchemilloides growing in grass in the south Cape near the Herbertsdale/Gourtizbrug area. Michael Vassar had collected this form before, and I grew it for years from seeds he sent me. I also recollected more seeds of it myself in 1993, and still grow some plants out every now and then from refrigerated seed. Most P. alchemilloides have flowers that quickly shed petals and set seed pods, so are best appreciated for their foliage, which is also variable. This form has copious good sized pink flowers that last a decent while, and can be grown as an annual outside in a sunny spot for the summer (or dug up and overwintered for another season outside the following year). It also makes a great basket plant in a greenhouse. There is an even larger flowered form of alchemilloides I have that comes from Stilbaai, also in the south Cape. While I never saw it on my trip, I got seed years ago from Charles Craib. It has comparatively huge white flowers, though it is not as floriferous as the pink form mentioned. Probably both "forms" deserve species rank, indeed I believe that much of what is called alchemilloides is really a swarm of distinct species, and I recall a paper by Mary Gibby stating as much years ago.

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