|Pelargonium tenellum (Andr.) G. Don
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A general system of gardening and botany 1 (1831) 729.
Acaulescent geophyte, tuber turnip-shaped.
Simple, trilobate or trifoliolate, bright green, lamina ovate, broadly ovate or trullate, base cuneate or truncate, apex acute to obtuse, magin entire, 15-35 x 8-25 mm, small lateral pinnae ovate, 8-10 x 5-7 mm, adaxially glabrous or covered with short glandular hairs, abaxially glabrous or sparsely setose mainly along the veins, margins with short appressed bristles, petiole 10-50 mm long, prostrate, sparsely to densely setose with appressed bristles interspersed with short glandular hairs. Stipules subulate, adnate to petioles for less than a third of their length.
Scape, bearing 2-4 pseudo-umbellets, each 3-10-flowered. Pedicel cca. 0.5 mm.
5, lanceolate, apices acute, 6-11.5 x 1-2.5 mm, posterior erect, others recurved. Hypanthium 10-19(-32) mm.
5, white, cream-coloured or pale pink with undulate margins, claws patent during anthesis forming a floral sheath. Posterior two with red line markings giving them flesh-coloured appearance, ligulate, claws ca. 13 mm long, usually wider than the apices, bases cuneate, apices rounded or emarginate, recurved, 19-25 x 2-3.5(-5) mm, anterior three narrowly spathulate, bases attenuate, apices rounded, 17-23 x 1.5-2.5(-4) mm.
5 fertile, posterior cca. 1.5-3.5 mm, lateral two 4.5-6.5 mm, curved upwards, anterior two 5.5-9.0 mm, curved upwards, white, pollen white to yellow.
There are frighteningly few pristine patches of renosterveld left around Cape Town, where P. tenellum once stretched from Philadelphia to Du Toitskloof mountains, and Stellenbosch in the south. Despite intensive agriculture, there are still some spots that remain little explored, such as the above hill, densely populated with P. tenellum on the top. The species flowers from November to January and mostly grows in full sun.
The north-facing slope of the same hill is home to a population of P. carnosum ssp. carnosum with very thin stems and unusually small leaves - this subspecies often has leaves as large as 30 cm! The south facing slope is home to P. viciifolium and enormous plants of P. aciculatum and the ubiquitous P. lobatum and P. rapaceum.
Marais E. M. (1991).
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