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William Curtis described Pelargonium cordifolium in 1792, as 'another Geranium of modern introduction, not enumerated by Linnaeus or Miller, and which in point of beauty, duration of flowering, and facility of culture, is equal to most'. It was introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the Cape, by Francis Masson in 1774.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
As the name suggests, the heart-leaved pelargonium has velvety, heart-shaped leaves scented of apple.

William Curtis described Pelargonium cordifolium in 1792, as 'another Geranium of modern introduction, not enumerated by Linnaeus or Miller, and which in point of beauty, duration of flowering, and facility of culture, is equal to most'. It was introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the Cape, by Francis Masson in 1774.

Curtis was right to draw attention to the length of the flowering season, for even in a British conservatory this plant is often in flower for many months, from around March to July.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Found near the coast in the Southern and Eastern Cape areas of South Africa.

Description

An upright, or sometimes spreading, shrub, up to 1.5 m high and wide. The main stem is woody at the base with many branches. The leaves are heart-shaped, dark green, soft, hairy, approximately 5 cm in diameter and toothed at the margins. 

The flowers are pink or purple with darker veining on the petals; they are produced in branched clusters from around June to January in its native habitat (March to July in Britain).

Uses

Pelargonium cordifolium makes an attractive ornamental plant.

Cultivation

Heart-leaved pelargonium is cultivated as an outdoor ornamental in South Africa. In Great Britain it needs the protection of a greenhouse and is easily grown in sandy soil. The tips should be pinched out to maintain a bushy plant. Propagation is mainly by cuttings.

This species at Kew

Pelargonium cordifolium can be seen growing in the dry climate section of the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Pelargoniums from South Africa to Kew

Francis Masson was the first plant collector officially employed by Kew, and was sent to Cape Town by Joseph Banks in 1772. With Carl Thunberg, another botanist, he undertook three plant-collecting expeditions in the Eastern Cape, which produced numerous exciting plants subsequently introduced to cultivation in Britain, including P. cordifolium and many other species of pelargoniums.

Although the Spanish botanist Antonio Cavanilles originally described this plant as Geranium cordifolium in 1787, it was William Curtis who first published a description of it in 1792, in his Botanical Magazine (later Curtis's Botanical Magazine ), under the name Pelargonium .

Distribution
South Africa
Ecology
Moist, sandy spots in fynbos, forests and forest margins.
Conservation
Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

Pelargoniums can cause mild skin dermatitis.

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[KSP]
Use
Ornamental.

Native to:

Cape Provinces

English
Heart-leaved pelargonium

Pelargonium cordifolium (Cav.) Curtis appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Bot. Mag. 5: t. 165 (1791)

Accepted by

  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • The Plant List (2010). Pelargonium cordifolium.
  • Cooper, M.R. & Johnson, A.W. (1998). Poisonous Plants and Fungi in Britain: Animal and Human Poisoning. Second edition. The Stationery Office, London.
  • Phillips, R. & Rix, M. (1997). Conservatory and Indoor Plants, Vol. 1. Macmillan, London.
  • Miller, D. (1996). Pelargoniums. Batsford, London.
  • Van der Walt, J. J. A., illus. E. Ward-Hilhorst (1979). Pelargoniums of Southern Africa. Vol.1. Fischer, Hillscheid & Cape Town.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0