Contents

Editorial
IGG News, by Matija Strlič
Donations for the IGG Seed List 2021 – A Reminder, by Jan Movitz
IGG Small Grants 2021, by Matija Strlič
Group Forum Report, by Elena Ioganson
Biebersteinia multifida, a Peculiar Plant from the Middle East, by Ori Fragman Sapir
Pelargonium endlicherianum in Turkey, by Yasemin Konuralp
Growing Pelargonium endlicherianum Outdoors in Northern Europe, by Jan Movitz
A Peculiar New Population of Pelargonium pallidoflavum from Aurora, Western Cape, by Matija Strlič

Editorial

In the northern hemisphere, the summer is here and most of the winter growing plants have finished flowering. The summer growing and flowering erodiums, geraniums and pelargoniums of course continue to provide us with joy. Many sarcocaulon growers induce a summer period of dormancy at about this time, and of course pollination and seed harvesting ensure that there is never a dull moment in the greenhouse!

This issue celebrates the riches of the spring. Following the last issue, we continue with our focus on the Turkish pelargoniums and we are joined by Yasemin Konuralp, botanical tour guide from Antalya, as a new author. Both Turkish species are excellent subjects to grow outdoors even in the harshest conditions, as discussed by Jan Movitz.

To further focus on the old world, Ori Fragman Sapir writes about Biebersteinia multifida, a taxon that used to be treated as part of Geraniaceae. Only in 2007, conclusive DNA evidence showed that the genus should be separated into its own family, Biebersteiniaceae, with Biebersteinia as the only genus. The fruits of Biebersteinia do not have the usual “beaks”, so it makes sense also morphologically, that the genus is treated separately from the geranium family. A very interesting taxon and an excellent article indeed!

Please do read about the successes of our members in the News section – it is just so pleasing to read about the awards, and that good work and persistence are noticed and acknowledged.

I hope the Newsletter brings something new to everyone. As always, I really wish we had more colleagues inspired to write about Geranium and Erodium. We know that our members have a keen interest in these genera, now we just need to get you away from your gardens and greenhouses and in front of a computer and write… An impossibly difficult task, I know, but as these Newsletters hopefully demonstrate, a worthy one as well.

Matija Strlič, Chairman and Editor

IGG News

First things first: sincere congratulations to Ellie and Rudi Goossens for having been awarded the Paul Harris Fellow award by the Rotary Club of Port Elizabeth Sunrise for their exceptional and continuous contribution to the Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve. The award was presented by the Club President Mr. David Raymer on 25 June.

We wrote about their exceptional work on veld restoration projects in Issue 159. It is a true privilege to know you, Ellie and Rudi, the award could not have gone to more deserving hands!

Secondly, many will remember our last physical pre-COVID meeting at Parc Floral in Paris, and some will know that the Parc has been awarded the status of the “National Collection of Pelargonium Cultivars and Species Pelargoniums” by the French national body “Conservatoire des Collections Végétales Spécialisées” – CCVS. In my humble opinion, anyone who has not been able to pay a visit to this exceptional collection yet, really should consider doing so, as the display and the specimens are truly magnificent, and the diversity of species unparalleled.

Recently, a member of the CCVS Committee for Collections, Mr. Gérard Pontet paid the collection a visit and Mr. Patrice Barboutie, keeper of the collection and our distinguished member, kindly stressed the importance of collaboration with the IGG for the Parc’s success. We are jointly working towards establishing a reference collection of Pelargonium at the Parc, which would be a great further success.

More generally, the IGG would certainly be pleased to work with other botanical gardens in a similar way.

The last IGG webinar event was unfortunately accompanied by a slight technical glitch, and a number of members were unable to connect – for which we are truly sorry indeed. About 20 attended the exceptional talk, covering various aspects of fynbos vegetation types, not just plants but animals as well. Frank Gaude, nature guide from Cape Town, gave a stunningly beautiful and wonderfully didactic presentation and if you have missed it, the link to a video recording is available through our website in the ‘Meetings’ section.

The September webinar is announced on the back cover of this Newsletter and all Members will receive a timely reminder by email. We will look at the diverse landscapes surrounding Lüderitz in Southern Namibia, from the humid, wind-swept peninsula to the arid mountains of the coastal Namib desert – with a diversity of Geraniaceae to match.

With Andrej Kos, our web editor, we have been working on the content of our website, uploading the current Newsletter and the archive of Newsletters. This is a slow and arduous task, so please bear with us and check the Digital Library section from time to time.

Matija Strlič, Chairman and Editor

Donations for the IGG Seed List 2021 – A Reminder

Last year we managed to produce a very large seed list with 572 donations of Geranium, Erodium, Pelargonium and Monsonia/ Sarcocaulon seeds. With the help of our members, we will hopefully have a comprehensive list this year as well.

Donations shall be sent to:
Jan Movitz
Berthågavägen 9A
752 60 Uppsala
Sweden

When sending seeds from countries outside the European Union including Switzerland and the UK, please use an ordinary flat envelope. If you have to declare the content, please write “Personal gift of no commercial value” or similar.

The plan is to have the 2021 seed list ready by mid-October. To make this possible, seed donations must reach the above address no later than the 1st of October. Please consider that postal services might be slower than usual due to the pandemic. Donations arriving later will be stored and included in the 2022 seed list.

When you have collected all your seeds for the season, please send them as soon as possible. If too many donations arrive during the last week of September, I may not be able to have the seed list ready in time for distribution.

A quick reminder about the advantages of being a donor. Donors receive one free package of seeds for each packet they donate. Moreover, orders arriving from members donating at least 5 packets of seeds during the first week after the Seed List launch will be handled as a priority, before all other orders are dealt with.

Jan Movitz, Seed Scheme Manager

IGG Small Grants 2021

The IGG Small Grant scheme was started in 2018, so this will be our fourth year running it, and it is excellent to see the successes that the Scheme enabled. Last year, the awardees were Robert Niklasson, who is now busy illustrating a new Pelargonium species, and dr. Elizabeth M. Marais, who is busy writing up papers.

At the meeting of the IGG Management Team on 24 April 2021, having reviewed the financial accounts, the Team is again delighted to be able to offer funding for research or promotion of IGG aims in 2021/2022 and make two awards.

Same as previous years and in line with the mission of the IGG, the outcomes of such research need to benefit both the Group’s aims and its members in the form of a report made available for publication in our Newsletter and online. We expect to make available up to £1000 for two proposals or more (each award to the total amount of up to £500).

For proposals to be eligible for funding, they need to consist of:

  1. Up to a 500-word description of the planned work. This should have a clear justification why the work is needed, how it will improve the understanding of Geraniaceae or popularize and promote the plant family, what exactly the proposed work will entail, when and how the recipient will report on the activities during the project. It is expected that the projects normally take less than a year to complete;
  2. A clear budget: how will the recipient use the requested funding, and if the requested funding is not sufficient for the activity to be undertaken in its entirety, how will the rest of the required funding be ensured. Typical eligible expenses include travel and accommodation costs, small tools, software, consumables etc. This section should also clarify how the funds should be transferred to the recipient. The grant cannot be used as personal remuneration;
  3. Clear description of the output(s). At least one of the outputs needs to be written in the form of a report that can be publishable in the IGG Newsletter and on the IGG website.

The proposals could include activities such as visits to herbaria, botanical gardens or wild localities in order to study taxa in cultivation or in the wild, production of botanical illustrations, activities to ethnographically document practices related to the genus (ethnobotanical research), or to do a piece of research into the history of cultivation. There is no limitation in terms of the topics of interest as long as the IGG aims are supported.

The proposals will be evaluated by the IGG Small Grants Evaluation Committee, consisting of members of the IGG Management Team, and of IGG members with significant expertise in Geraniaceae: Benjamin Coultrup, Florent Grenier, Jan Movitz, Matija Strlič. Neither the Committee nor the Management Team members are eligible for funding.

Please submit your proposals to chairman@geraniaceae-group.org by 15 July 2021. The proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Fit to the IGG mission
  • Financial risk to IGG
  • Quality of the project outcome(s)

The Evaluation Committee will make the details of the winning proposal(s) publicly available no later than mid-July. The approved funding can be used immediately after this announcement is made.

In 2021, the Committee would be specifically looking to make at least one award for research on genera other than Pelargonium.

Matija Strlič, Chairman and Editor

Group Forum Report

About 1,458 members of the Facebook Group actively participated in it, in the period that passed since the release of the Spring Newsletter. “Active” members are those who viewed the Group content, left their comments and reactions, or re-posted content. In this period, we saw about 397 posts, with additional 1,390 comments and 18,326 reactions.

With the arrival of the summer, almost all hoareas have gone into dormancy, their photos now appear only occasionally. The tuberous species that flowered in the last couple of months were featured by Jan Movitz, Patrice Barboutie, Matija Strlic, Karen Hansen, Nick Mong, Gitte Adahl and myself. It is now the time for the summer-growing species to grow and flower. We were happy to see the flowers of some rare species such as P. otaviense, P. grandicalcaratum, P. articulatum, P. caffrum, P. ellaphieae, P. caylae, P. torulosum etc.

We see many photos of mature, beautiful plants grown from the seeds of previous years’ IGG Seed Lists. A lush shrub of an abundantly flowering P. incarnatum was posted by Bernhard Kleeberger (Fig. 1), and similarly well grown plants of P. grandiflorum, P. laevigatum, P. sidoides and P. fruticosum were posted by Patrice Barboutie. I am sure that seeing such mature cultivated plants attracts new Group members.

Fig. 1: P. incarnatum, photo credit: Bernhard Kleeberger.

One of the most popular species of the last few months turned out to be P. tetragonum. Only during April and May, 10 members posted photos of it in flower. I am sure that many others cultivate this interesting succulent, even if not in flower! Raul Diez Caro posted a wonderful picture of his exemplary plant (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2: P. tetragonum, photo credit: Raul Diez Caro.

Fig. 3: G. thessalum, photo credit: Geert Lambrecht.

Fig. 4: P. trifidum, photo credit: Tommy Nguyen.

A tuberous P. caroli-henrici with densely pilose leaves and a hardy pelargonium species P. endlicherianum with bright purplish-pink flowers are two other species that were genuinely appreciated, and their photos are also often published.

I would like to thank the IGG Chairman, Matija Strlic, for a lot of photos of uncommon species of Pelargonium and Monsonia, which he grows and generously shares their seeds with us.

Elena Ioganson, Group Forum Administrator

Biebersteinia multifida, a Peculiar Plant from the Middle East

In the 1980s I found a peculiar plant in the heights of Mt Hermon not far from the Israel-Lebanon-Syria border. It was a hairy-silvery plant with much dissected leaves (Fig. 1) and small yellow flowers. At first I thought the flowers were buds, but realized later that they do not grow or open much. It took me a few weeks until I found its name Biebersteinia multifida and illustration in Flora Palaestina, ‘our’ monumental flora that includes illustrations of all local plants.

Fig. 1: Biebersteinia multifida leaves. Photo credit: Ori Fragman-Sapir.

In the past years the plant has been found in several localities in the southern Mt Hermon at altitudes of 1900-2000 m within tragacanth sub-alpine vegetation and also in sagebrush semi-desert in the southern Jordanian mountains of Edom. This disjunctive distribution is typical to the mountains of the Middle East, a reminder of colder times.

Fig. 2: Biebersteinia multifida, entire plant. Photo credit: Ori Fragman-Sapir.

The genus Biebersteinia is named after the German botanist Friedrich August Marschall von Bieberstein (1768–1826) and consists of 5 species, four of which are Asian and one is Greek. The genus was placed first within Geraniaceae, but later molecular works placed it within its own family Biebersteiniaceae. Indeed a peculiar and unique plant that does not resemble any other plant.

Biebersteinia multifida has a wide range, found from the Middle East to central Asia. It always grows in rocky-stony, gravelly and sunny places. The plant has a large pointed lobed tuber (Fig. 2), stems, leaves and calyx are covered by glands (Fig. 3). It blooms in late-April to May (Fig. 4) nd in summer it disperses its wrinkled hairless mericarps.

Fig. 3: The inflorescence of Biebersteinia multifida. Photo credit: Ori Fragman-Sapir.

Although globally it is not threatened, locally in the Levant it is very rare and suffers from grazing and road construction.

We had several large plants in buckets in the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens but unfortunately lost them all, they rotted in the mild and wet Jerusalem winters. These days we have young plants that grew from seeds. It seems that the plants need a well-drained soil, cold winters and a completely dry long summer with no irrigation between May and November.

Fig. 4: Biebersteinia multifida, an open flower. Photo credit: Ori Fragman-Sapir.

Ori Fragman-Sapir, Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

Pelargonium endlicherianum in Turkey

Pelargonium endlicherianum (Fig. 1) was first identified from samples collected by Fenzl in 1842 in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. P. H. Davis and his team worked extensively on Flora of Turkey between 1961 and 1985 as part of a project and published the “Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands” in 10 volumes. He and his team determined about 10 habitats of this species in Turkey. We now know this species from about 21 different locations, following the efforts of many Turkish botanists.

Fig. 1: P. endlicherianum in habitat. Photo credit: Yasemin Konuralp.

There are two species of Pelargonium growing wild in Turkey. P. endlicherianum Fenzl, and P. quercetorum Agnew and neither has been attributed to a section yet.

  1. endlicherianum is not endemic to Turkey and is found mainly in the transitional areas between the Mediterranean and Irano-Turanian regions of Turkey, but is also found in the Syrian desert.

In the regions of Malatya and Kahramanmaraş, wild flowers (Fig. 2) are gathered for sale at local markets for use against intestinal worms. Pharmacological reports confirm that such use is safe and effective.

Fig. 2: P. endlicherianum in habitat. Photo credit: Yasemin Konuralp.

Description and Ecology

  1. endlicherianum is a hardy rhizomatous (woody) perennial herb, 15-40 cm tall. Basal leaves are long-stalked, palmately-lobed and crenate on margins, covered with fine short hairs. The stem leaves are alternate. Umbels have 8 – 14 large, showy, magenta to carmine-coloured flowers. The flowers are zygomorphic and have hypanthia like all other Pelargonium species. The two upper petals are recurved, and are much larger than the minute anterior 3 petals. The Turkish populations have 7 fertile stamens. The fruit is a beaked shizocarp, 25-38 mm long, splitting from base to apex into 5 mericarps.

The zygomorphic flowers (Figs. 3, 4) of this species appear to attract specific pollinators, however, no pollination studies have been carried out on this species.

Fig. 3: P. endlicherianum in flower. Photo credit: Yasemin Konuralp.

The habitat is mainly limestone, rarely serpentine rock, found in stony ground, on slopes, screes, in crevices, where continental mountain climate prevails. It usually grows at (250-)650-1500 m. The flowering time is (May-)June-August and fruiting time is Aug-Oct, depending on the altitude.

Fig. 4: P. endlicherianum in flower. Photo credit: Yasemin Konuralp.

Distribution and Climate

Mediterranean region, Taurus mountains: Populations can be found in the vicinity of Muğla, Burdur, Isparta, Antalya, Mersin, Adana, and Hatay.  The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is 6.4 °C, while in July, the hottest month, it is 26.8 °C. The annual average is 16.3 °C and the average annual total precipitation is 726 mm, with most of the precipitation in winter.

Inner Turkey: Konya, Ankara, Yozgat, Sivas, and Niğde.  The January average is -0.7 °C and July 22 °C.  The annual averages are 10.8 °C and 414 mm precipitation, most of which is in the winter and spring seasons.

Eastern Turkey: Populations close to Erzurum, Kars. Malatya, Tunceli, and Hakkari experience January averages of –4.2 °C and July averages of 24.2 °C, with the annual average temperature of 10.2 °C and precipitation 579, with most of the precipitation in the winter and spring seasons.

Southeastern Turkey: Found in the vicinity of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, and Adıyaman. The January average is 3.7 °C, July average 29.8 °C and annual averages are 16.4 °C and 566 mm, with most precipitation in the winter and spring seasons.

Black Sea Region: The population close to Artvin experiences relatively cool summers, while the winters are snowy and cold, with the average temperature in January being 4.2 °C. The average temperature in July is 22.1 °C and the annual average is 13.0 °C and precipitation 843 mm.

Yasemin Konuralp, Antalya, Turkey

Growing Pelargonium endlicherianum Outdoors in Northern Europe

Two species of Pelargonium naturally grow in temperate areas in the Northern hemisphere: P. quercetorum in the Kurdistan regions of Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and P. endlicherianum in Turkey and Syria, both in mountainous areas. P. quercertorum was described in the Spring 2021 Newsletter and P. endlicherianum in this one.

I live in Uppsala, Sweden, a town located at 63o latitude. The summer temperatures are in the range of 15-30 oC, with up to 18 sun-hours per day, while during the winter there are only a few hours of sunlight a day. The winter temperatures are normally 0 to -10 oC, occasionally down to -20 or even -30 oC. In most winters, the ground is covered with a layer of snow, at least for a few weeks. However, often there is no snow and up to 20 cm of the topsoil regularly freezes over.

Fig. 1: P. endlicherianum growing in a rock garden in Uppsala, Sweden. Photo credit: Jan Movitz.

I have a rock garden and am very fond of growing plants, which one normally finds in warmer areas, e.g. plants from mountainous areas in Southern Africa and cacti from North America. The rock garden is built up of just a 25-cm layer of coarse aggregate (0-8 mm) and rocks, avoiding any organic material.

The seeds of Pelargonium endlicherianum are annually available in the IGG Seed List and the species is easily raised from seeds. Unfortunately, the exact geographical origin of seeds is seldom known. In my experience, this is important as the hardiness of plants is not the same for plants from different areas. If germinating seeds in the autumn, the resulting plants can be planted outdoors in early summer.

Fig. 2: P. endlicherianum in flower. Photo credit: Jan Movitz.

I currently grow plants outdoors that originally came from four different geographical regions. One of them came to me as a rhizome from Dirmil, not far from Elmali in the Western Taurus Mountains. Another plant was raised from seeds originating from Artvin in North Eastern Turkey, close to Georgia. The other two are of unknown provenience, one from the 2019/20 IGG Seed List. All four have survived the last winter (Figs 1, 2).

When planting P. endlicherianum into the rock garden, all soil must be carefully removed from the roots, and no organic material should be left. I place the plants in a sunny position and protect the plant from sun during the first two weeks. As my rock garden is built of just aggregate and stones, I add some inorganic fertiliser once a year in early spring. If the summer is hot and dry, I irrigate a few times during the summer. P. endlicherianum flowers outdoors in July.

In the autumn, I put a tile over the plants to protect them from winter rain. The plants are very sensitive to excessive moisture and may easily rot during the winter. Low temperature is a less of a problem. When spring arrives, the plants look dead but recover in a few weeks.

Jan Movitz, Uppsala, Sweden

A Peculiar New Population of Pelargonium pallidoflavum from Aurora, Western Cape

Pelargonium pallidoflavum E.M. Marais, section Hoarea, is a well-known geophytic pelargonium with prostrate leaves and mostly round laminas with entire margins. The flowers are quite large for the section, with cream-coloured, pale yellow or yellow petals up to 30 mm long and relatively narrow, only about 6-8 mm wide. The nectar tubes are up to 50 mm long, although can be much shorter at 20 mm. In line with most hoareas, it has 5 perfect stamens.

The reported distribution is from the Nardouws Mountain along the Olifantsrivier and in the Cederberge, as far south as the Twenty Four River Mountains, in fynbos on sandstone. A typical location where it can be readily observed in a large population is on the Pakhuispas, where I first saw it in 2001 (Fig. 1). There, it grows next to P. reflexipetalum, however, in my experience P. pallidoflavum flowers later so that the absence of natural hybrids it is not a surprise. In habitat, it flowers from October to December. P. pallidoflavum was described in 2014 [1].

Fig. 1: P. pallidoflavum in habitat, in 2001, on Pakhuispas. Scanned slide, credit: Matija Strlič.

In 2019, while surveying the Western foothills of the Piketberg mountains with Riaan van der Walt, a renowned nature conservation expert from Porterville, Western Cape, we came across a good-sized population of >100 plants, with prostrate round leaves (Fig. 2). The first thought was that this could be either P. tenellum or P. heterophyllum, although even for these two species the location was significantly further north than any other known locations. The habitat was sandy fynbos, i.e. typical for either of the two species and of course, we hoped for P. heterophyllum as this would mean an entirely new population of an otherwise critically endangered species. The type locality of this species, Darling, is only 60 km away, so the assumption seemed founded, especially as the lamina margins had what appeared like the bristly hairs typical for P. tenellum or P. heterophyllum.

Fig. 2: P. pallidoflavum in habitat near Aurora. Photo credit: Matija Strlič.

Upon flowering, however, it became evident that heterophyllum was out of question as the dark blotches that are typical for this species were missing. P. tenellum looked like a possibility, particularly as the petals were undulated (i.e. wavy). However, the petals were not ligulate (i.e. linear, tongue-shaped) but spatulate (i.e. rounded and broader at the tips). In addition, their size, as well as the nectar tube length were at the maximum of the range for P. tenellum [2].

Fig 3: The inflorescence of P. pallidoflavum from Aurora. Photo credit: Matija Strlič.

On close inspection, particularly of the indumentum (i.e. hairs) on both P. tenellum and P. pallidoflavum, it turned out that the unusual plants represented the latter species. The flowering time of these plants was later than tenellum by about a month, and about two weeks earlier than the flowering time of pallidoflavum from Pakhuispas.

The discovery of this new location extends the known distribution range of the species away from the vertical line that runs along the Western ridges of the Cederberge into what is in effect the northern border of the Swartland region (Fig. 4). It may be possible that the species reached further south in the past, however, the area now consists of wheatfields.

Fig. 4: The location of the new population of P. pallidoflavum added to the known distribution of the species. Amended after [1].

However, the most striking feature of this new population are the undulated petal margins. None of the known populations of P. pallidoflavum exhibits this feature, so that the species description needs to be amended to include this character. It would thus appear that petal undulation is not a character of diagnostic value in section Hoarea, and delimitation of several other species may need to be reconsidered if petal undulation is used as the defining character.

Matija Strlič, Ljubljana, Slovenia

References

  1. Marais E. M. (2014), One name change and three new species of Pelargonium, section Hoarea (Geraniaceae) from the Western Cape Province. South African Journal of Botany 90, 118-127.
  2. Marais E. M. (1994), Taxonomic Studies in Pelargonium, Section Hoarea (Geraniaceae), PhD Thesis, University of Stellenbosch.