Allan Robinson , UK
|A few years ago, Marisa, our webmaster, mentioned a Geranium she had raised from Geraniaceae Group seed. Her photograph of Geranium meeboldii was identical to a plant I had purchased under the same name. For a number of years now Geranium meeboldii has appeared in nursery lists around the world. The name gives the impression of a species fairly new to cultivation; the specific epithet commemorates the collector. We soon came to realise that this plant needed further investigation.||
Karl Meebold was born near Württemberg
in Germany during September 1863. During his lifetime he developed an interest
in plants and became a self taught botanist. He loved to travel to foreign lands
and during his life he made three journeys to India between 1904 and 1912, where
Geranium meeboldii was
described in 1908 commemorating Meebold but today the name is just a synonym for
which was described in 1862 by Johann Friedrich Klotzsch.(Klotzsch
Under the rules of Botanical
Nomenclature, the earliest published description takes precedence. Other
synonyms for Geranium himalayense
are G. grandiflorum,
G. grandiflorum var. alpinum
and even G. collinum
var. alpinum. Geranium himalayense
produces blue flowers with some red flushing towards the centre, the
petals are nicely veined.
Once growing in the garden, the flowers and leaves of this recently acquired Geranium
meeboldii start to ring warning
bells. The flowers are white, sometimes the flower opens a blush pink and then
fades to white and occasionally the pink is quite persistent in some clones.
This may be due to weather conditions; cool moist days tend to keep the petals
blush pink whereas hot and sunny ones leave the flowers white. The leaves of
this plant are also deeply divided (as shown in Marisa’s photograph and the
silhouette), a second reason for doubting that this plant has any connection to Geranium
Geranium "Meeboldii" blooming in Alessandria, Italy June 2010 - photos (& blurring...) Marisa Amadio
started to investigate this plant in an effort to discover its true identity
without very much success. Then I mentioned the problem to David Victor, the
Geranium Registrar and learned he had suspected the plant to be an imposter a
few years previously. With amazing luck, David managed to have the plant
identified by Dr Peter Yeo at Cambridge Botanic Garden before Peter died a few
years ago. Peter identified the plant as a form of Geranium
collinum. Originally it had been
collected by the famous Czech plant hunter, Josef Jurasek, while searching in the Pamir Mountains. Sadly it has
been mis-identified at some stage, once in
has come to my attention that seed of this plant was sold by more than one Czech
Collector, as they often combined forces when travelling to remote areas).
in China and Mongolia, then heads westward through Central Asia, (taking in
Pakistan but not India) onwards to the Russian Federation, the Ukraine and
finally Romania. As Meebold collected in India, he wouldn’t have gone far
enough North or East to enable contact with this species. With such a widespread
species a fair degree of variability can be expected, I find this particular
form quite compact and well behaved.
Meebold was well versed in other subjects as well as Botany and made his living
in different ways, particularly as an essayist, lecturer, novelist and poet. In
1938, while living in Hungary, Meebold almost certainly guessed what was coming
and made the decision to emigrate to New Zealand, one of the countries he had
visited earlier in his life. He arrived in Honolulu en route but was detained
due to the outbreak of war, not arriving in New Zealand until hostilities were
over in 1945. He died there some years later in 1952. Alfred Meebold studied
plants in a vast number of countries worldwide, too many to mention here.
from the Geranium, his name lives on in the genus Meeboldina (endemic to
Western Australia) plus the species Acacia
meeboldii and Darwinia meeboldii.
I have included a photocopy of the leaf silhouette of my Geranium “meeboldii” which is in fact Geranium collinum (sold as Geranium meeboldii). So if your white or blush pink flowered G. meeboldii produces the deeply cut leaves of Geranium collinum shown here, then you need to re-label.
Geranium collinum (sold as Geranium meeboldii) leaf silhouette
Robinson and Marisa Amadio,
use of double inverted commas around a plant name indicates that the name is
dubious or incorrect).