|Pelargonium polycephalum (Harv.) R. Knuth|
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Pflanzenreich, IV, 129 (1912) 372.
Up to 1 m tall shrub with an upright, up to 5 cm thick stems. Roots not tuberous.
Somewhat succulent, deeply pinnatifid, decurrent, apices of segments round, margins crenate, covered with microscopically short hairs. Petioles thick and persistent.
Branched, with 4-5 branching points, each with up to 15 pseudo-umbels, each with ~10 flowers. Pedicels extremely short, giving rise to extremely compact pseudo-umbels. The inflorescence matures from the perimeter towards the centre, and not from top to bottom, as would be typical of P. carnosum. The flowers mature in a short period of time of a few weeks only.
5, lanceolate, recurved, margins hyaline.
White, slightly reflexed, with markings or stripes, anterior smaller than posterior.
5 fertile, equal in legth.
P. polycephalum is well known from the central Richtersveld where it usually does not grow in exposed locations such as the above P. echinatum, but rather at foothills, where it can grow into very tall shrubs with attractive stems. These are not unlike those of P. paniculatum, and the two can be mistaken when not in flower. P. polycephalum is closely related to P. carnosum, from which it can be separated on the basis of the extremely short pedicels. Its inflorescence also has a peculiar shape in that most flowers are open at the same time, which can give plants from some, particularly the more southern populations, a really striking appearance.
Becker M., Revision der Pelargonium Sektion Otidia (Geraniaceae) aus dem Winterregengebiet des südlichen Afrikas un Bewertung evolutiver Strategien der Pelargoniuen aus der Capensis, PhD Thesis, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (2006).
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