Scientific Name: Geranium maderense
Common Name: Madeira Cranesbill
Plant Type: Herbaceous Biennial
Environment: Full sun to semi-shaded locations work best. If you want millions more of this plant, do not remove the spent seed heads and allow it to self sow. The old leaves should not be removed too soon - particularly if it is in an exposed location, as the plant uses them to prop itself up to resist wind loosening.
Bloom: Late winter to late summer.
Uses: Attractive as an insectiary plant.
Who would ever think this plant was a geranium? Two feet tall, three foot long fleshy branches with leaves radiating out in all directions from a thick woody trunk, a purple blaze of quarter size flowers clustered together at the ends of hairy petioles, make this variety of geranium unlike any other!
Geranium maderense is native to Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal, and is an example of what can happen, botanically speaking, to a seed that may have floated on driftwood, carried in a bird's beak, caught in the hoof of a goat, or blown by the wind to its new island home.
In its struggle to survive, it underwent changes from being in a different climate, among different predators and pollinators, and facing competition from new and different plants. Some, or a combination of all of these factors, caused the seed to evolve and change over vast periods of time into a geranium wildly different from the ones we know so well and grow in our gardens and window boxes.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil