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By Wayne L. Handlos, Ph.D.

Moras Shubert  Pelargonium 'Moras Shubert' flowerPelargonium 'Moras Shubert' leaf     Erne Shubert   Pelargonium 'Erne Shubert' flowerPelargonium 'Erme Shubert' leaf

Moras Shubert       ‘Moras Shubert’ flower & leaf            and         Erne Shubert        ‘Erne Shubert’ flower & leaf

On the occasion of Prof. Moras Shubert’s 100th birthday, May 21, 2012, a new cultivar

of Pelargonium, named ‘Moras Shubert’ is being described in his honor.

This cultivar was a chance seedling which appeared in my garden in California several

years ago. In botanical characteristics, it is clearly a member of § Reniformia,

species of which can easily be intercrossed (Ed Olson-Moore, Pelargonium Cross

List, The Pelargonium Breeder, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2003). This cultivar embodies characteristics

of P. ionidiflorum, P. odoratissimum and P. x fragrans.

Pelargonium ionidiflorum flower     Pelargonium ionidiflorum leaf                                Pelargonium x fragrans flower  Pelargonium x fragrans leaf

      P. ionidiflorum flower,   leaf                                               P. x fragrans flower, leaf

In the Mediterranean climate area of the Central Coast of California, this plant

grows and flowers throughout the year. Flowering is more prolific in the warmer

months of summer. There is no real dormant period but flowering and vegetative

growth are reduced in the colder winter months. While capable of withstanding the

occasional light frost, the plant is not likely to be winter hardy in colder areas.

Like many other Pelargoniums, a well drained soil or growing medium is recommended

and a water-logged soil should be avoided. Propagation by rooting vegetative

cuttings in a sterile medium works well.

I have chosen to name this plant after Moras Shubert because of the vibrant color of

the flowers, the compact nature of the plant, the inflorescences reaching out beyond

the plant and the spicy fragrance of the leaves.


‘MORAS SHUBERT’ – Description of a new cultivar of Pelargonium

Pelargonium 'Moras Shubert' leafThis is a small woody plant growing to about 20 cm tall. The leaves are bright

green, roughly triangular in outline, 3-7 lobed and minutely hairy; in larger

leaves the lobes are obscurely lobed too. The leaf base is cordate. The leaf margins

are irregularly toothed. Petioles are 1 ˝ to 10 cm long; minutely hairy, with

small, triangular stipules. The leaves have a spicy fragrance, a scent which is

referred to as “nutmeg” by geranium growers.

Pelargonium 'Moras Shubert' inflorescence The flowers are hot pink; they are borne on lateral flowering branches with several

< sequential, stalked umbels; the ultimate inflorescences are 3-5 flowered.

Pelargonium 'Moras Shubert' flower

The two upper petals are upright and close together, about 11 mm long

and 3 mm wide and obovate. There is a dark violet red blotch on each

petal with smaller speckles below it; the 3 lower petals are bright pink,

unlined, 10 mm long and 3 mm wide, and narrowly obovate in outline.

Pelargonium 'Moras Shubert' hypanthium <The hypanthium is up to 1.8 cm long, the pedicel is about 8 mm long. The ovary

and 5 lobed style are glabrous. There are 5 longer and 2 shorter stamens.


As a further tribute to Moras Shubert, I would like to name another cultivar in

honor of Erne Hutton Shubert, his wife of 72 years, who passed away in April,


This cultivar is also a chance seedling, selected from among about 15 seedlings

derived from an older cultivar named ‘Orange Fizz’ which has a citrusy fragrance.

This cultivar belongs in the § Pelargonium, a section which includes

many species with scented leaves.

Pelargonium 'Mabel Grey' flowers

 Pelargonium 'Mabel Grey' leaf          Pelargonium 'Orange Fizz' flower  Pelargonium 'Orange Fizz' leaf         

      ‘Mabel Grey’ flowers, leaf                                  ‘Orange Fizz’ flower, leaf

While I am not sure of the parentage of this new cultivar, it seems to be intermediate

between ‘Orange Fizz’ and ‘Mabel Grey’. The leaves are larger than those

of ‘Orange Fizz’ but smaller than those of ‘Mabel Grey’. The color of the flowers

is more vibrant and a darker lavender/violet color than either of the putative

parents. (Under greenhouse conditions the petals are several shades lighter in


When grown in soil in the garden, the plant can easily grow more than a meter

tall. It produces offshoots from the root system. The plant can be propagated

from softwood cuttings or offshoots from the roots. Flowering is seasonal and is

triggered by cool night temperatures (like most Regal geraniums).

I have chosen this plant to be named after Erne Shubert because of its beautiful,

vibrant flowers, the upright and neat arrangement of leaves, as well as the pleasant

fragrance of its leaves. To my nose, ‘Mabel Grey’ has a sharp lemon or citrus

odor, while the leaves of ‘Erne Shubert Shubert’ have a more appealing floral-citrusy


‘ERNE SHUBERT’ – Description of a new cultivar of Pelargonium

Pelargonium 'Erne Shubert' leafThis is a branching, coarsely hairy, floral-citrus-scented shrub growing over 1 m

tall. The leaves are roughly triangular in outline, 3-7 lobed, sharply toothed with

a truncate base. The leaves are roughly hairy below but less so above; veins are

impressed above. The petiole is about 1.1 cm long, slightly hairy; stipules are

triangular, green and apiculate.

Pelargonium 'Erne Shubert' flower

The flowers are bright magenta and hot pink in 3-5-flowered clusters subtended

by several, conspicuous, green bracts. The peduncles are 2.5 cm long, hairy;

pedicels are 1.1 cm long and hairy. The 2 upper petals are slightly recurved, larger

and darker in color than the 3 lower petals and broadly obovate in outline.

Each upper petal has a dark purple blotch (almost black) and is 1.8 cm wide and

2.2 cm long. There are 3-5 dark colored, feathered lines below each blotch. The

lower petals are hot pink, smaller and narrower, 1.7 cm long and 8 mm wide.

The hypanthium is about 6 mm long; the ovary and style are hairy.


Diane Dwyer Handlos was a student in Moras Shubert’s botany classes at the

University of Denver in the late 1950’s. She maintained contact with him and

his wife Erne from that time to the present. I was introduced to them on a trip to

Denver in the1980’s.

Moras & Erne ShubertMoras was a faculty member at the University of Denver from 1946 until his retirement

in 1977. Erne worked at the Colorado State Library from 1951 until her

retirement in 1972. To quote from an article in the Washington Park Profile:

“Together the Shuberts served a variety of civic, professional and charitable organizations.

They led world travel tours, organized mountain hikes, and were

instrumental in creating a retirement residence for DU staff and students.” This

quotation only hints at the energy they expended on their many projects, interests

and activities. Moras is deeply involved with the Denver Botanic Gardens and

was on the original Board of Trustees where he remains as a permanent member.

It was a joy to be with them as they both had very active and inquiring minds, to

say nothing of memories for incredible detail. In addition, they each had a wonderful

sense of humor. Conversation never lagged with them. Questions flew in

all directions. There were always stacks of books around the chairs in their living

room and they were up-to-date on all current events. They both served (and

continue to serve) as sources of inspiration to us (and many others). It is truly a

gift to know Moras and Erne.


Denver Botanic GardensIt has been an honor to know the Shuberts and I hope they will find it an honor

to have two different but related plants named for them. I think it is appropriate

that these plants are introduced at the Denver Botanic Gardens and hope that

the staff will maintain these plants for the public in the memory of two remarkable

people. On our last visit to Denver, The Denver Botanic Garden personnel were

very helpful in assisting us and welcomed future contacts.  We appreciate their

                                involvement in this tribute to the Shuberts. 

More information on the Denver Botanic Gardens.


At a later date the plants will be available commercially from two nurseries

in California.