17th CENTURY:IMPORTANT PEOPLE, DATES AND PUBLICATIONS
IN THE HISTORY OFPELARGONIUM
By Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.
1.John Tradescant 2.Guy de La Brosse 3.Jacob Breyne 4.Leonard Plukenet 5. John Ray
This is an abbreviated history of some of people who have been influential in the
introduction, naming and distribution of various species ofPelargonium into Europe
from Southern Africa.
1620 – René Morin – Pelargonium triste was the first species of Pelargonium
grown in Europe. It was included in the first printed French catalog
(Catalogus plantarum horti Renati-Morini …) from the nursery of René
1631 – John Tradescant the Elder – He obtained P. triste from Morin and was the
first Englishman to grow and flower this species.
1633 – Thomas Johnson – He visited Tradescant’s garden where he saw P. triste in
flower. The species was then described in his revision of Gerard’s Herball.
1635 – Jacques Cornut – The first botanical illustration and Latin description of P.
triste was included in his Canadensium Plantarum.
1636 – Guy de La Brosse – In 1626, as botanist, pharmacist and doctor to Louis
XIII, he founded an herb garden for the King (Jardin du Roi). HisDescription du jardin royal des plantes medecinales … included two species of African
Geranium(possibly Pelargonium) on pages 55, 56.
1640 – John Parkinson – While he is famous for his herbal Paradisi in Sole …
(which is a play on words on his name), his Theatrum Plantarum has an illustration
of P. triste along with several European geraniums.
1672 – Paul Hermann – In 1672 he was the first Dutch botanist to visit Cape Colony
on his way to Sri Lanka. He sent seeds and specimens to the Leiden Botanic
Garden. In 1680 he became the Professor of Botany at Leiden and published
his list ofPelargonium species in 1687 in Horti Academici Lugduno-
Batavi…This list included descriptions of P. cucullatum, P. capitatum/vitifolium, P. myrrhifolium,
P. betonicum, P. alchimilloides, P. gibbosum, P. grossularioides.
1676 – Paul Ammann – As Professor of Botany at the University of Leipzig he was also the Director
of the Botanical Garden. In 1676 his Character Naturalis Plantarum gives detailed
descriptions of eight species of African geraniums (=Pelargonium) on pp. 155-158.
His 1686 list of plants Hortus Bosianus (plants grown in the Bose Botanical Garden in
Leipzig) includes five species of African geraniums (Pelargonium).
1678 – Jacob Breyne – He was a German businessman and botanist. His work Gedanensis Exoticarum
aliarumque minus cognitarum plantarum centuria prima covers plants from
the Cape of Good Hope grown from seeds from P. Hermann. Illustrations include P.
triste and P. myrrhifolium.
1688 – William III and Hans Willem Bentinck – The King and his close advisor came from
Holland and grew several species of Pelargonium in England. These plants were shared
with a number of other plant lovers and collectors.
1690 – Jan Moninckx – He was a Dutch artist commissioned to make a pictorial record of plants
grown in Amsterdam. He completed 273 illustrations and his daughter did 101. These
illustrations are compiled in the Moninckx Atlas. The first Pelargonium he figured was
P. zonale. His drawings served as the basis for later publications by the botanical staff in
1690 – Bishop Henry Compton – He grew many exotic plants including Pelargonium on his 36
acre garden at Fulham Palace in England. Some of his plants were sold to R. Furber and
the Duchess of Beaufort.
1692 – Leonard Plukenet – As an English botanist and gardener to Queen Mary, he published
Phytographia which included illustrations of more than 2,700 plants. His plates 31, 186
and 187 showed species of Geranium.
1693 – John Ray – He was Professor of Botany at Cambridge University. He began his
Historia Plantarum in 1693 and vol. 2 included many species of Geranium. He had
access to the Duchess of Beaufort’s collections. Her ivy geranium plant was described in
vol. 3 published in 1704. Ray is credited with proposing the first biological definition of
species which took into account natural biological variation among individual plants in a
1699 – Elias Peine – Working in Leipzig, his publication Hortus Bosianus included four species
of African geraniums on p. 39, four more species of African and American species of
Pelargonium (as Geranium) and seven species of hardy geraniums on p. 40 and two
more African Geraniums in an unnumbered addition called Horti Bosiani.