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By Wayne Handlos, Ph.D.

This is an abbreviated history of some of people who have been influential in the

introduction, naming and distribution of various species of Pelargonium into Europe

from Southern Africa. Part 1 was printed in the previous month's newsletter and

covered the time period from 1620 to 1738.

                                                        18th Century

1753 - Carl Linnaeus - The publication of Species Plantarum marked the introduction of the binomial

system of nomenclature (i.e. a genus and species name for each different plant) that we still use today.

While all the plants of the family were included in his group Monadelphia Decandria and placed in the

genus Geranium, he did distinguish between those with seven fertile stamens, those with five fertile stamens

and those with 10 fertile stamens.  These groups would later be known as Pelargonium, Erodium and Geranium.

1759 - Nicolaas L. Burman - He was a Dutchman and the son of Johannes Burman whom he succeeded

as chair of botany in Amsterdam; he worked with Linnaeus in Upsala. His major work

concerning Pelargonium was Specimen botanicum de geraniis which included information

and descriptions of 72 species of geraniums.

1771 - Thomas Martyn - He was Professor of Botany at Cambridge from 1762 to 1825, though he

gave no lectures after 1796 because "the subject was not popular." His Catalogus Horti

Botanici Cantabrigiensis listed the species grown there and included P. inquinans, papilionaceum,

cucullatum, peltatum, acetosum, zonale, vitifolium, capitatum, alchimilloides, odoratissimum,

coriandrifolium, triste (all in the genus Geranium)

1772-82 - Mary Delaney - She was a well educated, twice married and widowed artist and letter

writer. She is known for her "paper mosaicks" (collages or decoupages) which she began

creating in her 70's. Almost 1,000 of the 1,700 she made are of flowers. Among the gerani ums

are G. fulgidum, G. hermannifolium, G. afr. terebinthinum, G. lacerum and G. trigonum. These are housed

at the British Museum.

1773-77 - Francis Masson - He was the first official collector for Kew Gardens and collected in

South Africa from 1772-1774 (sometimes with Carl Thunberg) and again in 1785-1795. He collected 102

species of Pelargonium. He published only  one book, Stapeliae Novae, in 1796 which included his own

drawings. He was collecting in the U.S. and Canada from 1797 to 1805 when he froze to death in

Canada in the winter of 1805/6

1780-1800 - Nikolaus J. Jacquin - Born in Holland, he eventually became the director of the

botanical gardens at the University of Vienna. He was an active collector and prolific

writer. He described and illustrated a number of species of Pelargonium in such publications

as Icones Plantarum Rariorum (1781-1793) and Plantarum Rariorum Horti Caesarei         

Schoenbrunnensis (1797-1804).

1781/4 - John Fothergill - He was a wealthy Quaker physician in London with a botanic garden

in Upton which included 30 acres, one glasshouse 260 feet long; he employed 15 gardeners

and 3 or 4 artists. His 2000 paintings of plants were sold to the Empress of Russia. Many of his

plants were bought by John Lettsom who compiled and published Hortus Uptonensis (a list of

Fothergill's collections) which included 32 species of Geranium.

1787 - Antonio Cavanilles - In his Dissertatio Botanici de Geranio this Spanish botanist described

and illustrated ca.  70 species of Pelargonium (all in the genus Geranium) which he separated within

Geranium on the basis of floral symmetry.  He was appointed Head of the Royal Garden in 1801.

1787-1801 - William Curtis - He was an English botanist at the Chelsea Physic Garden and also

had his own botanic garden. He published The Botanical Magazine by subscription

beginning in 1787. Each part contained three descriptions and one hand colored illustration.

One of his first three geranium illustrations was G. peltatum. His later illustrations

used the genus name Pelargonium

1789-92 - Charles Louis L'Heritier de Brutelle - His publication, Geraniologia, with very fine

illustrations by Pierre Redoute included 6 Erodium, 2 Monsonia, 5 Geranium and 31

Pelargonium. He worked with Joseph Banks in London on a disputed collection of

specimens from Peru and Chile. Upon returning to Paris he was murdered in 1801.

1789 - William Aiton - He was from Scotland and was an assistant to Philip Miller. Later he

was the superintendent of the Chelsea Physic Garden and director of Kew Botanical Gar den.

His Hortus Kewensis published in 1789 included descriptions of species of Pelargonium

provided by L'Heritier. The descriptions are useful for information about collectors and growers

and dates of introduction of species to England.

1797-1814 - Henry C. Andrews - His subscription publication, Botanical Repository, appeared

between 1797 and 1811. Volume 3 includes 42 geraniums. He was a publisher with a

small nursery and he was married to the daughter of John Kennedy a well known nurseryman.

His descriptions and illustrations were drawn from several prominent collections of the day.

He vigorously opposed the use of the name Pelargonium. See more below.

 Images                                           19th Century

1801 - Carl Ludwig Willdenow - This German botanist revised and expanded Linnaeus's

Species Plantarum and transferred species to the genus Pelargonium (in Vol.3, part 1,

published in 1801). Using Linnaeus's sexual system, he included Pelargonium in the

Monadelphia Heptandria (plants with seven stamens fused together).  At the end of his career,

he was the director of the Berlin Botanical Garden.

1801-03 - Friedrich Gottlieb Dietrich - Dietrich was initially the Duke's gardener at Weimar.

He knew and assisted Wolfgang von Goethe in his botanical works. Between 1801 and

1803 he published Die Linneischen Geranien a work in five parts with four illustrations

per part. He published 16 major works including his ten volume Vollstaendigen Lexicon der Gaertnerei

und Botanik published between 1802-1810 with 136 species of Pelargonium described in Band [Vol.] 7

(1807). This was followed by his 10 volume  Nachtrag zum Vollstaendigen Lexikon der

Gaertnerei und Botanik published from 1815-1821 with 116 species plus synonyms in Band [Vol.] 6

published in 1820.This was followed by his 10 volume Neuer Nachtrag zum Vollstaendigen Lexikon der

Gaertnerei und Botanik ... published between 1825-1840 with 41 species and synonyms in Band [Vol.] 6 (1837).

1803 - Carl Peter Thunberg - While in South Africa to learn Dutch, he travelled and collected

with Francis Masson. He continued on to Japan where he resided for three years. His

works include a Flora Capensis, Flora Japonicus and the record of plants cultivated in

Upsala (Horti Upsaliensis Planta Cultae 1780-1800) where he was Chair of Botany for 44 years.

The list includes 9 species of Erodium, 27 species of Pelargonium, 23 species

of Geranium and 2 species of Monsonia. His Nova Genera Plantarum includes the first

delineation of many genera of commonly grown plants.

1805 - Henry C. Andrews - His Monograph of Geranium included descriptions and illustrations

of 60 different plants.

1818 - William B. Page - Page's Prodromus included a list of the plants cultivated in the Southampton

Botanic Garden. Under Gerania beginning on p. 137 he lists 117 species and their varieties in addition to 87

"fine seedling varieties."

1820-30 - Robert Sweet - As a nurseryman he published Hortus Suburbanus Londinensis in

1818 which contained 175 Pelargonium, 18 Erodium, 40 Geranium and 5 Monsonia.

Later he was a foreman at Colvill's Nursery. His major work was Geraniaceae which

included illustrations and descriptions of 500 species and hybrids from several different

collections. He proposed the genera Campylia, Ciconium, Dimacria, Grenvillea,

Hoarea, Isopetalum, Otidia, Phymatanthus, Seymouria for various groups of species of

Pelargonium. Some of these categories are still used today. He was eventually acquitted

of a plant theft charge in 1824.

1820 - George Loddiges- Loddiges Catalogue � The catalog included a P. peltatum with variegated

foliage. The nursery was a father/son endeavor from 1770-1850�s. They published the Botanical Cabinet of

20 volumes with 2,000 illustrations. In 1822 they had the largest glasshouse in the world. On a visit to the

nursery in 1838, Charles Darwin saw 1279 cultivars of roses.

1821 - James Colvill - Colvill Catalogue � Another family nursery that used Sweet's generic

names in their catalog. They had 40,000 sq. ft. of glasshouses and are reputed to have

offered about 500 cultivars of Pelargonium. Their list included P. peltatum, P. scutatum,

P. pinguifolium, and P. lateripes with two varieties: α roseum and rubrum.

1824 - Augustin P. de Candolle - This Swiss botanist included Pelargonium in Volume 1 of his

massive work Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis, which included 369

taxa of Pelargonium (plus 66 of Geranium and 45 of Erodium) He demoted Sweet's

genera to sections under the genus Pelargonium. He trained in Paris with L'Heritier,

Cuvier and Lamarck. He coined the word 'taxonomy' and believed in Nature's War

or the principle of natural selection ("survival of the fittest").   Eventually he returned to

Geneva where he was the first of four generations of de Candolle botanists.

1825 - Philipp (Fillip) Maximillian Opiz - This Czech botanist worked in Prague and wrote

his first Flora at the age of 13. He is reported to have authored 500 journal articles in his

life and described 100 plant genera. His Die Pelargonien translated de Candolle's

Latin descriptions of Pelargonium into German.

1826-27 - Leopold Trattinnick Another prolific botanist of means, he authored a number of

works with very fine illustrations. Of interest here is his Neue Arten von Pelargonien

which described and illustrated 264 taxa in six volumes published between 1826 and 1843.

This work was conceived as a supplement to Sweet's work but covered the many

hybrids being produced in Germany at that time. Each illustration is accompanied by a

Latin and German description and includes the source or originator of the plant, its parents

where known, and an explanation of the name.

1829 - Jakob von Reider - As a district court judge and landowner, he was one of the most prolific

writers on agriculture and horticulture in Bavaria. His Annalen der Blumisterei

ran to 12 volumes between 1824 and 1836 and contains many fine illustrations including

23 Pelargoniums. His Beschreibung aller bekannten Pelargonien ... compiled descriptions of all the known

Pelargoniums at that time (about 635 taxa).  That was followed in 1829 and 1830 by two additional

volumes entitled Abbildung von fűnf und zwanzig  und beschreibung von hundert der neuesten

und merkwűrdigsten  Pelargonien (that is, 50 illustrations and 200 more descriptions of the newest and most

remarkable Pelargoniums). So in all he pulled together or described over 800 different species and varieties

of Pelargonium and illustrations of about 75.

1835-37 - Christian Ecklon and Karl Zeyher - Ecklon, a Dane, and Zeyher, a German, coauthored

Enumeratio Plantarum Africae Australis. Together they named ca. 2,000 species of plants from South Africa.

They elevated many of the Pelargonium section names to generic level. Many of their botanical schemes ended

tragically and both lived out their lives in South Africa.


2019, Central Coast Geranium Society (CCGS )