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Pelargonium betulinum

   (Family: Geraniaceae)
Afrikaans: Kanferblaar, Maagpynbossie, Suurbos English: Camphor-scented pelargonium, Birch-leaved pelargonium  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.3 - 1.3m
Spread: 0.5 - 0.8m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (light)
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Winter
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
Flowering time EDIT
x             x x x x x
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Flower shape
Flower type
  Flower info
  The flowers are large and attractive, making this plant very conspicuous when it is in flower. The inflorescence is umbel-like, usually consisting of three to four flowers, occasionally of up to six. Flower colour is variable, pink and purplish flowers being most commonly seen in the wild, and there is also a white form. All flowers have dark purplish streaks on the petals, particularly on the two upper petals. Pelargonium betulinum flowers during spring and summer, with a peak from August to October, and a few flowers appearing all summer until February.
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf texture Hairy
  Leaf scent
  Camphor-like scent is released when the leaves are crushed.
Leaf size 10 - 30mm
  Leaf info EDIT
  The leaves are small, 1 - 3 cm long by 0.7 - 2.5 cm broad, oval or ovate in shape, and are carried on ±1 cm long petioles. The leaf blades are somewhat hard and leathery, are either almost hairless or covered in fine short hairs, and have a serrated margin of red-tipped teeth.
Sow seeds in Autumn
  Seed info EDIT
  The seed is adapted to wind-dispersal, is light in weight and has a feathered tail which is coiled into a spiral. The seed is carried away on the wind and after landing on the ground in suitably soft soil, the tail causes the seed to be twisted around so that it drills into the soil in a corkscrew fashion, thus securing itself, ready to germinate with the onset of the rainy weather in autumn.
Description EDIT
A bushy, herbaceous shrub growing 0.3 - 1.3 m tall.
Flowers are large and attractive, commonly pink and purplish.
Growing EDIT
It is a fast growing, requires full sun or semi-shade, and a neutral, well-drained sandy soil.

This species is wind- and drought-tolerant and need only be watered when the soil is dry.

Propagation is by cuttings or seed. This species is readily propagated from softwood and tip cuttings taken from healthy young growth in autumn (March to May). The cuttings should be left to dry in a cool spot for a few hours. The basal ends should be dipped in a rooting hormone, and inserted into a prepared hole made by a dibber or a nail to avoid damaging the ends. The cuttings should be rooted in a cold frame, in a well-drained medium, such as coarse river sand. The first watering should contain a fungicide or agricultural disinfectant (e.g. a.i. benomyl (Benlate) / copper oxychloride / captab (Kaptan) / didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride (Sporekill)) after which the cuttings should be watered regularly but not excessively. Rooting should occur in 4 to 8 weeks and a weaning period of 1 week is recommended. The newly rooted cuttings can be fed with a seaweed-based fertilizer and potted up after they have been weaned.

Seed should be sown at a depth of 2 - 3 mm in late summer to autumn (February to March) in a well-drained sandy loam. Germination should occur in 1 - 3 weeks with percentage germination of ±75%. Remember that plants grown from seed will show some degree of variation and if a particular form or variant is required it must be propagated vegetatively.
Distribution EDIT
Confined to the coastal areas of the winter rainfall region of South Africa, from Yzerfontein on the west coast to Knysna on the east coast of the Western Cape, where it grows on sandy dunes and flat areas.
History EDIT
The genus Pelargonium gets is name from the resemblance of the shape of the fruit to the beak of a stork, pelargos in Greek, while the species name betulinum is derived from the resemblance of the leaves of this plant to those of European birches, Betula species.

This species was probably first cultivated in Holland in around 1738, and was introduced to Britain by Francis Masson in 1786.
The leaves of Pelargonium betulinum contain essential oils and are used medicinally for coughs and other chest troubles, where fresh leaves are placed in boiled water and the vapour from the steamed leaves is inhaled. The leaves are also known to be used in wound healing ointments. Since it also has the common name maagpynbossie, it would appear that it is also used in some regions to relieve stomach pain.
Ecology EDIT
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