THE OTHER ZONAL PELARGONIUMS – 7. GREEN-FLOWERED PELARGONIUMS
By Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.
1. M. Boucharlat
2. M. Élie-Abel Carrière
3. Pelargonium lycopodioides – from Revue Horticole, 1874
4. Dianthus caryo-phyllus γ imbricatus Wheat-ear carnation
5. Double Green Pelargonium 6. Dr. Denny’s Double Green Pelargonium
7. Pelargonium‘Dr. Denny’ (ivy/zonal hybrid)
8. Pelargonium ‘Fir Trees Catkins’ (from www.petrei.cz/)
Pelargonium x hortorum‘New Yorker’ (See image on website> http://www.petrei.cz/)
It seems that plant fanciers are always looking for something new and different. Because of this desire, any
deviation (sport or mutation) from the normal appearance is seized upon, propagated, shared and bragged about.
Among commonly cultivated ornamental plants you can find the following green-flowered varieties: Kermit mum,
Spring Green and Bombay Green cockscomb, Bells of Ireland, Green Tail and Green Cascade amaranthus, Green
Star and Green Woodpecker gladiolus, Green Goddess calla, Alchemilla, Jade Tiger and Green Heron hellebores,
Envy, Tequila Lime and Queen Red Lime zinnias, Lime Green nicotiana (flowering tobacco), hops, Mint Julep,
St. Patrick and Green Ice roses, Magical Green and Emerald Green hydrangea. Some nurseries offer zonal cultivars
with green tinged petals (‘Westdale Appleblossom’) or ivy geraniums with green centers bearing such names as
‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Green Goddess’. But … In 1870 an unusual form of a zonal Pelargonium was grown in
Villafranca, Italy by a M. Pescatory. This plant was shared with M. Boucharlat (a well-known horticulturist in Lyon,
France). In due course this plant made its way to Élie-Abel Carrière, the editor of Revue Horticole and head
gardener of the Muséum d’Histoire naturelle in Paris. He described and illustrated (fig. 7) these flowers in detail in
the 16 Jan. 1874 edition of Revue Horticole (vol. 46, p 38). This plant produced "pédicelles … gros et très robustes,
… quantité considerable de bractées linéaires vertes … sétiformes, acuminées, aiguës,…" [pedicels large and very
robust, large quantity of green linear bracts, setiform, acuminate, sharp-pointed]. He named this plant Pelargonium
zonale lycopodioides, a member of the Zonales section of the genus Pelargonium.
A week later, 24 Jan 1874, a translation in English of M. Carrière’s article appeared inThe Gardeners’ Chronicle.
The unusual floral structures were described with "each of the pedicels of the inflorescence bearing a number of linear
acuminate green bracts." It was compared to the wheat-ear carnation which had been known for a long time, recognized
and named by Linnaeus (in Species Plantarum, 1753) as Dianthus caryophyllus γ imbricatus. This unusual floral
structure was illustrated in Curtis’ Botanical Magazine in 1814 (vol. 39, plate 1622).
Two and a half years later (12 Aug. 1876), the Gardeners’ Chronicle noted in an article headlined "Green Flowered
Pelargonium" of Dr. Denny’s exhibition of an unusual Pelargonium. Two illustrations were included (figs. 43, 44). The
flowers were a "mass of overlapping lanceolate green scales." It is not clear whether this plant was identical to the afore-
mentioned plants. It was said to be "produced in one of his houses." Dr. Denny, a physician, was treasurer of the
Pelargonium Society. He began breeding in 1866 and between 1871 and 1880 he introduced 60 varieties of zonal
Pelargoniums which had been selected from 30,000 seedlings (Gardeners’ Chronicle, July 1880, p. 7). He died in 1881.
An ivy/zonal hybrid cultivar was named after him in 1878 (The Florist and Pomologist, June 1878, pl. 468).
While these Pelargoniums were novelties (some called them monstrosities), they were sterile, not very showy, not invasive
– and just seem to have faded away. In the Denny article the editor suggested that "we hardly expect ‘florists’ to become
enamoured of it."
In more recent years, Ken Dymond has hybridized a number of new cultivars of angel Pelargonium. All were given the
prefix Quantock named for the hills in County Somerset (England) where he lives. One of his cultivars – ‘Quantock
Ultimate’ – in about 2005 sported to a truly double-flowered form at the Fir Trees Nursery (England) and was named
‘Quantock Double Dymond’ (sometimes misspelled Diamond) in honor of Ken Dymond. Even more recently,
‘Quantock Double Dymond’ began producing unusual flowers like Pelargonium zonale lycopodioides in the
Fir Trees Nursery. These plants have been propagated and sold under the name ‘Fir Trees Catkins’. The cultivar
has made its way across Europe and can now be found as far away as Russia.
Gwen Ward tells her story of these plants in her care and illustrates all the Dymond cultivars in her blog – Perfect
Pelargoniums (http://www.perfect-pelargoniums.com/ , 5 Sept. 2011).
Since the original Pelargonium zonale lycopodioides was considered to be in the zonal (Ciconium) section of
Pelargonium, these newest plants would not be considered identical because angel geraniums are in the
section Pelargonium of the genus Pelargonium. Plants from these two sections do not normally interbreed.
But, the plot thickens. If you check the image of ‘New Yorker’ (a rosebud geranium [růžičkokvěté] on Petr Reichelt’s
website ( www.petrei.cz/ ), you will see flowers producing catkin-like extensions reminiscent of ‘Fir Trees Catkins.’
RosebudPelargoniums are cultivars with very double flowers of zonal, ivy and ivy/zonal hybrid geraniums in the
Ciconium section of the genus Pelargonium, the same section as the original Pelargonium zonale lycopodioides.