Greek geranos — crane, referring to the long beak on the fruit reminiscent of the Crane’s bill.
Annual or perennial herbs, occasionally shrubs. Leaves opposite or alternate, mostly simple and pinnately or palmately lobed or dissected, sometimes compound and pinnate. Flowers regular. Sepals 5, without a sepal spur. Petals 5, mostly pink to red, orange or purple. Stamens 10, sometimes only 5 fertile. Fruit a long-beaked capsule splitting to expose the seed.
The common name Geranium has wide and liberal usage - sometimes for Geranium alone, sometimes for the zonal pelargoniums (or other pelargoniums), and occasionally for all genera in the Geraniaceae family. An international registration authority for Geranium cultivars is based in the UK, with Alby Scriven the Australian representative of the Registrar. The true geraniums are not grown so widely in Australia as they are overseas.
Species by seed (seed should not be sourced from cultivated plants), cultivars by cuttings.
Some species have root extracts used for dyeing and tanning, others have extracts with various medicinal properties used as treatments for a range of ailments including eye complaints, swelling and toothache.
Flowers symmetrical and without a nectary spur; fruit splitting into single-seeded parts dispersed in an outward and upward catapult action, cf. Pelargonium.
VIC: Alby Scriven (www.users.bigpond.com/scrivens) of Eden Park specialises in species geraniums. NSW: A collection has been assembled at Viburnum Gds, Arcadia.
c. 430 species, mostly temperate but a few extending into tropical montane areas. Australia has 9 native species.
Yeo (1973, 1985, 1992), Bagust (1988). Cultivars: Australian Geraniums, Geranium & Pelargonium Society, Sydney (1989).
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.