Pelargonium ladysmithianum E. M. Marais
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Hoarea
Isopetalum
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PELARGONIUM NOTES
Repertorium specierum novarum regni vegetabilis 28 (1930) 90
Section Hoarea

Habit
Deciduous geophyte, 100-250 mm tall when in flower, tuber turnip-shaped, elongated or moniliform root.


Leaves
Radical, simple, seldom trifoliolate, green, become papery-membranous when dry, petiolate, lamina ovate to broadly ovate, 10-40 x 8-20 mm, apex obtuse, base widely cuneate to truncate, margin entire, seldom lobed, adaxially and abaxially covered with short and long glandular hairs and non-glandular hairs, and abaxially non-glandular hairs especially along main veins, margins ciliate with long patent hairs. Stipules 6-15mm long, subulate, adnate to petioles, apices free.

Inflorescence
Scape, bearing 2-5 pseudo-umbellets, each 4-8-flowered. Pedicel ca. 0.5 mm.


Sepals
5, posterior one erect, others reflexed, 6-11 x 1.5-2.5 mm, reddish green in centre with green membrane-like margins. Hypanthium 20-35 mm long, 3-4 times the length of sepals, reddish green, covered with long glandular hairs and long patent non-glandular hairs. 

Petals
5, white or pale yellow, spathulate, patent, flower bell-shaped during anthesis, posterior two curved by 90 deg, with dark red feather-like markings, 13-19 x 2.5-5.0 mm, length/width ratio 3-4, apices emarginate, anterior three 10-17 x 2.0-4.5mm, apices rounded.


Stamens
5, concealed within the floral sheath, posterior one 2-3mm long, lateral two 3-4 mm long, anterior two 4.0-5.5mm long, shorter than the sepals, white, anthers wine-red, pollen orange.

Distribution

 
Habitat

P. ladysmithianum is one of the smaller species in the section and has long been treated as insufficiently known - Knuth namely described the species as having pink petals, probably in error, and in addition, named it after Ladysmith in Kwazulu-Natal, also in error. It is found in large populations in the Klein Karoo in karooid vegetation on lower south-facing slopes, in areas of 200-400 precipitation.  


These small plants must be a delight to see in flower, especially as the peduncles are thin and the umbellets look quite lax due to the long hypanthia.
It is odd that the taxon remained so little known for so long - another problem is that there is a number of small, yellow-flowering species in the section and can be difficult to tell apart.

Literature
E. M. Marais, pers. comm. (2018).


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