Geranium

Geranium is a genus in the Geraniaceae family of around 400 species found in temperate regions. The name Geranium means "crane" in Greek, and the common English name of many species is "crane's bill" although this may be a reference to the distinctive seed capsules. Geraniums should not be confused with the plants the horticultural trade refers to as "Geraniums", which are species of Pelargonium. Geranium species have 10 fertile stamens. Pelargonium species also have 10 stamens, but they are not all fertile. Only 1,2,3,4,5, or 7 are fertile.


Geranium maculatum is known as 'Wild Geranium' and is native to the East of North America. The high tannin content of its rhizome led early settlers to use it for tanning hide. Extracts from the rhizome are also used as herbal medicines.


Geranium × magnificum is a hybrid of Geranium ibericum and Geranium platypetalum. A typical vigorous cottage garden blue geranium easily passed along by digging up a chunk of rhizome. Photographs by David Pilling.

Geranium × magnificum, David PillingGeranium × magnificum, David PillingGeranium × magnificum, David PillingGeranium × magnificum, David Pilling

Geranium oxonianum is a hybrid of Geranium endressii and Geranium versicolor. There are many named cultivars and the vigorous plants are common cottage garden hardy geraniums. The typical height is 18 inches and spreading rhizomes mean the plants form large clumps. New plants can easily be propagated from pieces of rhizome. Photographs by David Pilling show characteristic Geranium palmate leaves, rhizome and seed production (black spot at the base of the 'bill').

Geranium oxonianum, David PillingGeranium oxonianum, David PillingGeranium oxonianum leaf, David PillingGeranium oxonianum rhizome, David PillingGeranium oxonianum seed, David Pilling

Geranium richardsonii Richardson's geranium. Native to western North America from Alaska to New Mexico, where it can be found in a number of habitats, especially open aspen and spruce forests. Leaves are bright green, flowers borne on stalks up to 12 cm (6"). The leaves of the wild white geranium are edible and can be added to soups and salads. Hardy to Zone 2 possibly colder. Photos contributed by Paige Woodward.

Geranium richardsonii, Paige WoodwardGeranium richardsonii, Paige Woodward

Geranium transversale Rose Foundling - This is a unique, bright, deep pink form of the normally pallid tuberous species native to Central Asia, W Siberia and N China. Originally found in the Aktash mountains in Uzbekistan. Photos contributed by Paige Woodward.

Geranium transversale, Paige WoodwardGeranium transversale, Paige WoodwardGeranium transversale, Paige Woodward

Geranium tuberosum is a tuberous species that originates from southern Europe into Asia Minor. It is dormant in summer. It has small pink/blue flowers borne above quite nice foliage. It is adaptable and does well in a sunny, well-drained position. It is reported to be hardy in colder climates.


Geranium viscosissimum Sticky Purple Geranium Found in drier grasslands and forests from N California, into Canada as far east as Saskatchewan. Hardy to Zone 2 at least. Photos contributed by Paige Woodward.

Geranium viscosissimum, Paige WoodwardGeranium viscosissimum, Paige Woodward

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Page last modified on September 05, 2012, at 06:18 PM