|Pelargonium githagineum E. M. Marais
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E. M. Marais, Taxonomic Studies in Pelargonium, Section Hoarea (Geraniaceae), PhD Thesis, University of Stellenbosch, 1994, p. 313.
Deciduous geophyte 120-300 mm tall when in flower, tuber turnip-shaped or elongated.
Credit: ©Jean-Andre Audissou, reproduced with permission of the author.
Simple, green, petiolate, lamina elliptic, ovate or triangular, base cuneate to truncate, apex rounded, margin deeply crenate, 20-70 x 10-65 mm, adaxially pillose with patent hairs interspersed with very short glandular hairs, abaxially velutinous. Petiole 15-80 mm long, prostrate, densely pilose with patent hairs interspersed with glandular hairs. Stipules tiriangular to subulate, adnate to petioles for half their length.
Scape, bearing 2-5 pseudo-umbellets, each 6-27-flowered. Pedicel cca. 0.5-2 mm.
5, lanceolate, apices acute, 6-8 x 1.5-3 mm, posterior one erect, others patent, greenish red with white margins. Hypanthium 9-20 mm, greenish red, densely covered with glandular hairs interspersed with patent non-glandular hairs.
5, white, posterior two ligulate to spathulate, 8-11 x 2-3 mm, bases cuneate, apices truncate to emarginate, recurved during anthesis. Anterior three connivent, spathulate, bases attenuate, apices rounded, 6.5-9 x 1.5-2.5 mm.
4 fertile, protruding from the flower, 9-12 mm long, free filaments wine-red, pollen orange.
P. githagineum is not a very well known species and is found in the succulent karoo between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland, in fairly dry conditions with 100-200-mm annual rainfall. It flowers early, from September to October.
Many very interesting geophytic pelargoniums can be found around Sutherland, such as P. luteopetalum and P. torulosum. The habitat is not only dry but also very cold and has in the past experienced long periods of snow cover. Many species hide under the ground for part of the year, therefore, such as the beautiful Geissorhiza spiralis pictured above, closely resembling a species of Crocus, another early spring flower well known in the northern hemisphere.
E. M. Marais, Taxonomic Studies in Pelargonium, Section Hoarea (Geraniaceae), PhD Thesis, University of Stellenbosch, 1994.
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