Pelargonium: Section Pelargonium
Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.
Let us look at the meanings of the names of the Pelargoniums in the section Pelargonium. This section of the family includes many of the species with scented foliage. Many of these species are involved in the parentage of the various cultivars of scented leaved plants, angels, Uniques and the regal or Martha Washington geraniums.
P. betulinum – birch like (referring to the leaf shape);
P. capitatum – head (referring to the compact arrangement of flowers in the inflorescence);
P. crispum – irregularly waved and twisted (leaves) ;
P. cucullatum – hooded (referring to the cupped leaves; this species is also important in the ancestry of the regal geraniums, scientifically named P. x domesticum – the ‘x’ designating a hybrid);
P. denticulatum– finely toothed. It has a cultivar ‘Filicifolium’-fern leaf - in which the upper two petals are deeply notched);
P. englerianum – named for A. Engler, a famous German taxonomist;
P. glutinosum – sticky; P. ‘Graveolens’ – strongly scented; P. greytonense – from the village of Greyton; P. hermannifolium – leaves like Hermannia, another group of plants; P. hispidum – long, rigid hairs;
P. panduriforme – fiddle shaped (leaves) ;
P. papilionaceum – butterfly-like (referring to the flowers);
P. pseudoglutinosum - false glutinosum;
P. quercifolium – oak leaf;
P. ribifolium – Ribes or currant foliage ;
P. scabroide – like scabrum i.e. with foliage covered by hard, short, rigid hairs;
P. scabrum – foliage with hard, short, rigid hairs ; P. sublignosum – somewhat woody; P. tomentosum – soft, dense hairs;
P. sublignosum - somewhat woody;
P. tomentosum - soft, dense hairs;
P. vitifolium – grape or vine leaf.
The following species may be lemon or citrus scented: P. citronellam, P. crispum, P. radens, P. scabrum, P. vitifolium. Mint scents can be found in – P. ‘Graveolens, P. radens, P. tomentosum. The “rose-scented” geraniums include:P. capitatum, P. ‘Graveolens’, P. radens. Various authors name the following balsam, pungent or unpleasant scented: P. denticulatum and ‘Filicifolium’, P. glutinosum, P. hispidum, P. panduriforme, P. papilionaceum, P. quercifolium.