1. Family: Geraniaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Pelargonium L'Hér. ex Aiton
      1. Pelargonium cordifolium (Cav.) Curtis

        William Curtis described Pelargonium cordifolium in 1792, as ‘another Geranium of modern introduction, not enumerated by Linnaeus or Miller, and which in point of beauty, duration of flowering, and facility of culture, is equal to most’. It was introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the Cape, by Francis Masson in 1774.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    As the name suggests, the heart-leaved pelargonium has velvety, heart-shaped leaves scented of apple.

    William Curtis described Pelargonium cordifolium in 1792, as ‘another Geranium of modern introduction, not enumerated by Linnaeus or Miller, and which in point of beauty, duration of flowering, and facility of culture, is equal to most’. It was introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from the Cape, by Francis Masson in 1774.

    Curtis was right to draw attention to the length of the flowering season, for even in a British conservatory this plant is often in flower for many months, from around March to July.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Found near the coast in the Southern and Eastern Cape areas of South Africa.

    Description

    An upright, or sometimes spreading, shrub, up to 1.5 m high and wide. The main stem is woody at the base with many branches. The leaves are heart-shaped, dark green, soft, hairy, approximately 5 cm in diameter and toothed at the margins. 

    The flowers are pink or purple with darker veining on the petals; they are produced in branched clusters from around June to January in its native habitat (March to July in Britain).

    Uses

    Pelargonium cordifolium makes an attractive ornamental plant.

    Cultivation

    Heart-leaved pelargonium is cultivated as an outdoor ornamental in South Africa. In Great Britain it needs the protection of a greenhouse and is easily grown in sandy soil. The tips should be pinched out to maintain a bushy plant. Propagation is mainly by cuttings.

    This species at Kew

    Pelargonium cordifolium can be seen growing in the dry climate section of the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

    Pelargoniums from South Africa to Kew

    Francis Masson was the first plant collector officially employed by Kew, and was sent to Cape Town by Joseph Banks in 1772. With Carl Thunberg, another botanist, he undertook three plant-collecting expeditions in the Eastern Cape, which produced numerous exciting plants subsequently introduced to cultivation in Britain, including P. cordifolium and many other species of pelargoniums.

    Although the Spanish botanist Antonio Cavanilles originally described this plant as Geranium cordifolium in 1787, it was William Curtis who first published a description of it in 1792, in his Botanical Magazine (later Curtis’s Botanical Magazine), under the name Pelargonium.

    Distribution
    South Africa
    Ecology
    Moist, sandy spots in fynbos, forests and forest margins.
    Conservation
    Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.
    Hazards

    Pelargoniums can cause mild skin dermatitis.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Cape Provinces

    Common Names

    English
    Heart-leaved pelargonium

    Pelargonium cordifolium (Cav.) Curtis appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Bot. Mag. 5: t. 165 (1791)

    Literature

    • [1] The Plant List (2010). Pelargonium cordifolium.
    • [2] (2003) Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • [3] Cooper, M.R. & Johnson, A.W. (1998). Poisonous Plants and Fungi in Britain: Animal and Human Poisoning. Second edition. The Stationery Office, London.
    • [4] Phillips, R. & Rix, M. (1997). Conservatory and Indoor Plants, Vol. 1. Macmillan, London.
    • [5] Miller, D. (1996). Pelargoniums. Batsford, London.
    • [6] Van der Walt, J. J. A., illus. E. Ward-Hilhorst (1979). Pelargoniums of Southern Africa. Vol.1. Fischer, Hillscheid & Cape Town.

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [D] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0