Annual or perennial herbs, rarely shrubs. Leaves opposite or alternate, the largest at the base of the stem, mostly simple with pinnate or palmate lobing, occasionally pinnately or ternately compound. Flower clusters flat-topped, of 2-7 flowers. Flowers regular, not spurred. Sepals and petals 5. Fertile stamens 5, alternating with 5 sterile stamens. Fruits with hairy parts and a spiralled bristle at the tip.
Most species in the genus grow naturally in alkaline, rocky, montane regions. In gardens they are generally grown in borders and rock gardens, or as pot plants, for the small, delicate flowers and ferny foliage.
Some species show a tendency to become weedy and there are 6 naturalised species in Australia: they should be grown with caution.
An international registrar for cultivars has been established in the UK; Alby Scriven is the Australian representative of the Registrar. About 30 species are currently grown in specialist collections.
Seed and division.
Sometimes used as forage. A dye is extracted from the roots of some species. Others have edible roots.
Flowers with 5 fertile stamens; fruits with a spiralling bristle tip.
About 80 species from Australia (3 species), S America, C Asia, Africa and Europe (34 species), especially the Mediterranean region.
Source: (2002). Geraniaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.