|Pelargonium zonale (L.) L'Hérit.|
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Ait. Hort. Kew. ed. 1,2: (1789) 424.
Erect or scrambling, softly woody shrub, usually 1 m, up to 3 m high. Young stems soft and succulent, covered with short hairs, older stems harden with age.
Orbicular, with a cordate base, 5-8 cm in diameter. Obsoletely many-lobed, with crenate margins. Glabrous or slightly pubescent with short hairs and glands. Zonation often found though variable. Stipules broadly ovate, soon becoming membraneous.
Umbel-like, 5-70 flowered, with flower buds reflexed.
5, equal in size, usually rose-coloured with red stripes, though all shades from white to red can be found.
7 fertile, staminal column relatively short, specifically in comparison with the closely related P. inquinans.
The above photographs of flowering specimens were taken in August 2015 along the road in Seweweekspoort, Western Cape. The slopes look barren after a recent fire, though on close inspection vigorous undergrowth quickly reveals itself. P. zonale, however, is found close to the road, where there is more shade and water. The gorge is a must for any traveller in South Africa, the geological formations are quite likely the most picturesque ones you'll ever see.
A large plant in full flower in the inaccessible and botanically underexplored Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape. P. zonale is frequent in the more shady parts of the kloof with abundant vegetation, while P. sidoides is found in less lush, grassy areas.
amoenum F. G. Dietr.
J. J. A. van der Walt: Pelargoniums of Southern Africa, vol. 1, 2nd ed., Fischer & Co., Hillscheid, 1979.
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