Pelargonium panduriforme

Eckl. & Zeyh.

Family : Geraniaceae
Common names
: balsam-scented geranium, fiddle leaf geranium

Pelargonium panduriforme flower

Large, attractive, hot-pink flowers make this small shrub an enviable plant for gardens.

DescriptionPelargonium panduriforme leaves and flowers
Pelargonium panduriforme is an erect, well branched shrub. The plant grows up to a height of 1.75 m and 0.5 m in diameter. The stems are soft and herbaceous when young but as the shrub matures become woody. The leaves are soft, hairy, and somewhat sticky and strongly balm-scented. The leaf blades are somewhat fiddle-shaped to heart-shaped in outline. The inflorescence is borne on flowering branches with two to twenty pale pink flowers. The shrub flowers from August to January. The fruit is dry and breaks up into five ellipsoid parts, each with a corkscrew awn at the top (the dry styles) and containing one seed.

Conservation status
Pelargonium panduriforme is very common and is therefore not threatened.

Distribution and habitat
Pelargonium panduriforme occurs from Antoniesberg in the area of Willowmore eastwards to near Riebeeck East. It has also been collected in Engcobo in the Eastern Cape. It grows profusely on the lower foothills or in ravines of the Kouga and Baviaanskloof Mountains. It is normally found close to streams. The summer temperatures are extremely high and the area experiences frost during the winter months. The annual rainfall is fairly low.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Pelargonium derives its name from the resemblance of the shape of the fruit to the beak of a stork, pelargos in Greek. The specific epithet panduriforme refers to the fiddle-shaped leaf blades. The common names of the plant refer to the leaf shape and scent of the leaves. The genus Pelargonium belongs to the family Geraniaceae, a large family of 11 genera and about 800 species in the subtropical and tropical world. There are 270 species of Pelargonium, which occur in S, E and NE Africa, Asia, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Madagascar, Australia and New Zealand ; 219 species occur in southern Africa.

The awns on the top of each of the five parts into which the fruit breaks up are usually coiled in a spiral. They enable the parts of the fruit, with the seed they contain, to bore into and secure themselves in the soil if twisted around by the wind or affected by changes in the humidity or the movement of animals.

Uses and cultural aspects
This plant, with a pungent scent and deep green fiddle-shaped leaves, provides a nice visual contrast to a grouping of plants. It will also be a great addition to any scented garden bed.

Pelargonium panduriforme shrub

Growing Pelargonium panduriforme

Pelargoniums are easily grown and fairly adaptable. Pelargonium panduriforme, like most other members of the genus, is fairly adaptable and can easily be grown from either seeds or cuttings. Cuttings can taken at any time of the year but preferably after flowering and seeding. Take semi-mature stem cuttings 150 mm long and apply a rooting hormone to stimulate the rooting process. Place the cuttings into prepared holes made with a wooden dibber or a nail to avoid damaging the ends. The cuttings are then placed in a cold-frame to root or a cool well lit area. Rooting of this species usually takes about 3 weeks. Once the cuttings have rooted pot them in a well-drained potting soil mix. Feed the newly rooted cuttings with a liquid seaweed-based fertilizer.

Pelargoniums can also be grown from seed in late summer and early autumn. Sow the seeds in a light, well-drained potting soil mixture. Spread the seeds evenly in the seed tray and cover them with a layer of clean white sand or fine-milled pine bark. The depth of sowing is usually one-and-a-half times the size of the seed. Water thoroughly but gently and provide light shade. Germination usually takes place within 4 weeks. Pelargoniums grown from seed are generally more vigorous than those made from cuttings. They do, however, tend to take longer to produce flowers. Plants grown from seed will show some degree of variation and if a particular form or variant is required it must be propagated vegetatively, by cuttings. This species has shown no signs of damage by any pest or disease while in cultivation at Kirstenbosch. The plant can grow easily in a garden with fairly damp and moist soil. Plant it in an area where it is protected from summer afternoon sun to avoid burnt edges on the leaves. Prune frequently after blooming to control its sloppy growth habit. It is relatively fast-growing, showy and long-flowering.

References and further reading

  • Van der Walt, J.J.A. & Vorster, P.J. 1988. Pelargoniums of southern Africa, vol. 3. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town.
  • The Herb Society of America.


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