Geranium phaeum

4 Jun

Geranium phaeum Flower (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Geranium phaeum Flower (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to shade

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained 

Eventual Height: 1m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a

Family: Geraniaceae

Geranium phaeum is an erect clump forming herbaceous perennial. Its mid green leaves are palmately lobed with serrated edges, have purplish brown markings and are up to 8cm long. Its dark, violet/ purple flowers have reflexed petals and are up to 2cm across. These are followed by long pointed seed heads.

Geranium phaeum, commonly known as Mourning widow, Dusky Cranesbill or Black Widow, is native to southern, central and western Europe.

The etymological root of the binomial name Geranium is derived from the Greek geranos meaning ‘a crane’, referring to the shape of the seed head. Phaeum is derived from the Latin phaeus meaning ‘brownish’, referring to the colour of the flower of the plant.

Geranium phaeum (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Geranium phaeum (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Geranium phaeum useful as a robust ground cover plant. It is suitable for dappled shade, including woodland planting schemes. It will tolerate both dry and moist soils.

Ecologically, Geranium phaeum is attractive to bees and pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Geranium phaeum ‘Our Pat’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 2006.

Geranium phaeum prefers moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Geranium phaeum requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be divided in spring.

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