Monday 25 October 2010

The Sad Geranium

Most growers of pelargoniums will know the history of Pelargonium triste - it is supposedly the first pelargonium to be grown in this country in 1632.   It was originally known as Geranium Indicum noctu odoratum; the Sweet, or Painted, Crane's-bill, and also The Sad Geranium.  Indicum because it had been thought that sailors brought the plant to this country from India, without knowing that the ships had also called at the Cape of Good Hope where the plant was collected.   The flowers have a sweet night scent, hence noctu odoratum.  Sad Geranium, or triste, because the flowers are mostly a dull yellow colour with brown or yellow markings.   

Pelargonium triste

The plant grows from an underground tuber, with several smaller tubers.  These have been used to treat diarrhoea or dysentery.

As you can see, the leaves are deeply divided and carrot-like.

Pelargonium triste is found in sandy soils in the western regions of the Cape Peninsular.  Here in the UK my plant has just produced leaves and will, hopefully, flower early in the new year.   When the flower fades, so do the leaves and then I just put the plant under the bench and forget all about it until September when I see leaves beginning to appear.  It really does have a very sweet scent at night, and just one plant will fill my small conservatory with scent during the evening.  


  1. Hi there!
    A great blog you have. I will need to spend some more time reading here...

    There are good and bad things about having English as your first language. Good thing is that most people can understand what you say and write. Bad thing is that you cannot easily read Swedish for instance. Even worse; you have to read this bad English written by a Swede...

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I love species pelargoniums but my Pelargonium Triste and P Ardens are struggling, Triste's leaves are turning yellow then ochre colour and Ardens leaves become mottled, yellow then ochre and the leaf stems look slightly rusty. Ardens was a very vigorous leafy plant, no flowers. I have read over watering can do this so have reduced watering from twice to once a week, I would love to know what you think, all the other pelargoniums seem fine.
    Best wishes


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