|Pelargonium campestre (Eckl. & Zeyh.) Steud.
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Nomenclator Botanicus 2nd ed. 2 (1841) 284
Deciduous geophyte, 60-90(-140) mm tall when in flower. Tuber turnip-shaped or elongated.
Green, lamina simple or irregularly pinnatisect, ovate, base cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, margin entire, irregularly serrate to deeply incised, 15-50 x 7-35 mm, pinnae ovate, 15-20 x 5-10 mm, adaxially glabrous or sparsely hirsute, abaxially sparsely hirsute and with long glandular hairs along the veins, margins ciliate with long appressed stiff hairs. Petiole 10-52 m, prostrate to erecto-patent, sparsely hirsute with patent hairs interspersed with short glandular hairs. Stipules subulate, adnate to petioles for half their length, (4-)8-15 x 2 mm.
Scape, bearing 2-4 pseudo-umbellets, each 5-9-flowered. Pedicel ca. 0.5 mm.
5, lanceolate, apices acute, 7-12 x 1.5-3.5 mm, posterior one erect, others recurved, green. Hypanthium 12-22 mm long, densely covered with long glandular hairs.
5, white, claws connivent, forming a trumpet-shaped floral sheath, apices patent, posterior two spathulate, claws linear, apices rounded or emarginate, 14-23 x 4-5.5 mm, anterior three spathulate, bases attenuate, apices rounded or emarginate, 14-23 x 4-5.5 mm.
5 fertile, protruding from the flower, posterior one 6-10 mm, lateral two 8-11.5 mm, anterior two 9-13 mm, staminodes white, pollen orange.
P. campestre is not a widespread species, although it is frequently found in cultivation. It grows in grassveld and karooid vegetation from Grahamstown to Port Elisabeth, often in dense thorny scrub, as pictured above. The rainfall is fairly abundant and at 400-600 mm it can fall at any time of year. P. campestre flowers from October to December and can be confused with P. auritum var. carneum, which also grows nearby, although the petal shape is very different. P. campestre is a small species that flowers profusely and over a long period.
The coastal thicket is a damp affair with abundant species (pictured above is Monsonia emarginata, another showy Geraniaceae species) as well as insect life. While looking for P. campestre in the suburbs of PE, the mosquitoes were so numerous and so tedious that I rapidly turned back after having spotted only two plants.
E. M. Marais, Taxonomic Studies in Pelargonium, Section Hoarea (Geraniaceae), PhD Thesis, University of Stellenbosch, 1994.
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