ISI 2010-25. Pelargonium triste (L.) L’Héritier

Geophytic pelargoniums, like many bulbs, are accorded honorary succulent status by some collectors because of their similar cultural requirements to various winter-growing succulents. P. triste, for example, grows happily in our Desert Garden alongside Cyphostemma juttae, euphorbias and various mesembs and thus tolerates the summer water required by these companions even though it lies completely dormant underground. It responds to the onset of winter with a tuft of soft pubescent, carrot-like foliage atop its subterranean tubers. Sprays of nondescript yellowish flowers marked with purple are the inspiration for the epithet from the Latin word tristis meaning “dull” or “sad”. This coloration and the common name of “night-scented pelargonium” suggest nocturnal pollination by moths. We offer HBG 97073, seedlings of HBG 24671, a plant obtained in 1969 from San Marina Cactus Gardens, Somerset West, S. Africa. The species is native to sandy soils in the Northern Cape near Steinkopf south to Albertinia in the Western Cape Province, S. Africa. $6.

Photo © 2010 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 82 (2), March - April, 2010