Geranium: plant description from roots to leaf tips

HomeAll flowers that start with GGeranium: plant description from roots to leaf tips

Geranium (Geranium) is a genus of perennial, less often annual herbs and shrubs of the geranium family, more than 300 species growing in various regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Used in ornamental floriculture and as a medicinal plant.

  • Family : geraniums.
  • Homeland : temperate areas around the world.
  • Rhizome : branched, taproot in some species.
  • Stem : rigid, erect or creeping.
  • Leaves : dissected or lobed.
  • Fruit : box-shaped.
  • Reproductive ability : propagated by cuttings, dividing the bush, seeds.
  • Illumination : photophilous, shade-tolerant.
  • Watering : moderate or plentiful.
  • Content temperature : frost-resistant.
  • Flowering time : May-June or July-August.

Description of geranium

Rhizome herbaceous plants or shrubs, 40-60 cm high, growing in the Northern Hemisphere in temperate zones and in the mountainous regions of the subtropics.

The root system of most geraniums is branched, often has thickenings at the ends, which perform a storage function when there is a lack of moisture. Some varieties form thick superficial rhizomes, like bearded irises, while others, mainly growing in the Alps and the Pyrenees, form very long roots, which allows them to adapt to a variety of growing conditions, endure both waterlogging and drought.

There are species whose roots in unfavorable periods are covered with similarities of nodules that store moisture and nutrients, and, if necessary, are reproductive organs. If an adult plant dies, unable to endure extreme external conditions, when the environment normalizes, it sprouts again from nodules preserved in the ground.

A number of geraniums growing in the mountains have a taproot, practically unbranched root system.

The structure of geraniums – leaves, roots, seeds, fruits and flowers

The structure of the leaf in representatives of the genus is just as diverse. They have long petioles and a dissected shape, however, the pattern of the leaf plate for each species, and sometimes varieties, is unique. It can be almost entire, slightly incised and heavily cut, rarely pinnate with 3-5 leaves. In many varieties of geranium, the leaves are covered with soft hairs, they are not only green, but also grayish, bluish, red, sometimes with spectacular spots.

Geranium flowers are usually large, purple, white, blue or violet, solitary or collected in racemose inflorescences, 1-3 per peduncle, with a 5-leaved flat calyx and 5 corolla petals, almost round, located in the same plane. Flowering time – late May – August, depending on the species.

Geranium seeds are formed in August-September. The box-shaped fruit has long valves, which, when ripe, twist upwards in an arcuate manner, scattering seeds.

The shape of the fruit resembles the beak of a stork or crane, which is why the plant got its name “geranium”, from the Greek “geranion”, or “crane”. The first mention of this name is found in the writings of the ancient Roman naturalist Dioscoreus, who named this flower found in the foothills of the Pyrenees. In different countries it is called differently: in England and America – Cranesbill, “crane”, in Germany – Storchschnabel, or “stork nose”, in Bulgaria, for its numerous useful properties, – “health resort”, in Russia they use the Latin name, geranium.

In the 17th century An exotic South African plant, called Geranium africanum, was brought to Europe. Its appearance is in many ways similar to European geraniums, so Carl Linnaeus in his treatise “The System of Nature” combined them into one genus. However, heat-loving African and cold-resistant unpretentious European geraniums have a different flower structure and a number of other differences, therefore, in the modern classification, Geranium africanum was separated into a separate genus, called Pelargonium. But until now, these plants, grown in our climate as indoor plants, are called geraniums.

Smell and shape of geranium flowers

The beautiful flowers and unusual smell of African geranium have made it very popular in ornamental floriculture, breeders have created thousands of varieties with different colors and shapes of flowers.

Currently, this is a common indoor culture, known and loved in all countries. It blooms for a long time, propagates easily, does not require complex care, but is thermophilic, can be outdoors only in summer, and is transferred to a warm room for winter.

Garden geranium, unpretentious and frost-resistant, for a long time was not interesting for gardeners.

Its rediscovery as an ornamental plant took place 35-40 years ago in England, along with the advent of the fashion for gardens in a natural style. Now garden geranium is becoming more and more popular. It is valued for its undemanding growing conditions, winter hardiness, disease resistance, beautiful leaves and attractive flowers. In culture, they grow mostly varieties with large bright flowers and beautiful leaves that grow in the subalpine meadows of the Apennines, the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Below are photos of some types of geraniums used in floriculture.

Useful properties of geranium – use for medicinal purposes

Although the use of culture in ornamental gardening began only in the middle of the last century, the medicinal properties of geraniums have been known for a long time. In the Middle Ages, the plant was considered healing, it was credited with the ability not only to heal wounds, stop bleeding, heal stomach diseases, but also heal fractures, even heal from cancer. Currently, a number of species are used in folk medicine as a disinfectant, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Infusions from the aerial part have the ability to dissolve salts in urolithiasis and gout, and help with diarrhea. For the same purpose, a decoction of the roots is used. Outwardly used in the form of local baths, lotions and washings in the treatment of skin diseases accompanied by itching, purulent wounds and ulcers, used in diseases of the ear, throat and nose.

In addition to the beneficial properties listed above, various types of geraniums have additional healing qualities. So, blood-red geranium – not only as an astringent and analgesic, it also lowers blood pressure, has a calming effect. Rhizomes contain a small amount of radium, so they are used to treat cancer. Geranium meadow helps with insomnia and epileptic seizures, neuralgia and lung diseases. Preparations from it, depending on the concentration and dose, can inhibit or excite the functions of the central nervous system and, at the same time, are of low toxicity. Alcoholic tincture of forest geranium is drunk for heart disease. Large-rhizome geranium stimulates the nervous system, in addition, it is used in cooking to flavor dishes and drinks.

All species contain a large amount of essential oil, which determines the bactericidal properties and the specific smell of the plant. Geranium essential oil is a valuable product used in the cosmetic and perfume industries, as well as for flavoring confectionery. It has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiseptic effect, soothes and improves mood. It is a colorless, yellow or greenish-yellow liquid with a geranium odor and hints of mint and rose aromas. It is used externally as part of various ointments, mixed with vegetable oils for massage, cosmetic purposes and the treatment of skin diseases, in aromatherapy to relieve fatigue and nervous tension, lower blood pressure, with insomnia and depression, inside with various pain syndromes, colitis, ENT diseases, etc.

When using aromatic oils inside, due to the high concentration of active ingredients in them, care must be taken, apply no more than 1-2 drops, dissolving them in honey, jam or vegetable oil.

For the first time, geranium oil was isolated by the French scientist Recluse in 1819 by steam distillation of the green parts of the plant. Currently, its main producers are France and African countries (Egypt, Morocco, Algeria). The highest quality product is obtained from garden geraniums (P. graveolens) and rose geraniums (P. roseum), belonging to the genus Pelargonium.

Separately, it is necessary to mention the Bulgarian essential oil of geranium, which differs from the usual one in properties, smell and appearance. It has been produced in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia since 1950 by steam distillation of large rhizomatous geranium, or “toast”. The product has an odor reminiscent of iris, sage and especially rose, a greenish color and a semi-liquid consistency, sometimes used to adulterate rose oil.

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