Geranium phaeum

Thanks to Ruth for today’s write-up!

To shed light on an ever-confusing sector of the horticultural world, let’s make clear the differences between geraniums and their close relatives, the pelargoniums. Many of the plants we purchase at garden centres under the common name geranium are, in fact, members of the genus Pelargonium. When Linnaeus originally named the genus Geranium, he grouped the genera Geranium and Pelargonium together. The two were later split in 1789, by the French botanist Charles L’Heritier de Brutelle. The name geranium has remained in use, though, as a common name for both of these members of the same family, the Geraniaceae.

The picture here is of a true Geranium in the botanical sense. It is commonly called mourning widow. Unlike the floriferous, showy type of “geraniums” (i.e., members of the malleable and easily-hybridized genus Pelargonium) used for annual color, its flowers are more discrete and of a sultry dark burgundy or black hue.

The mourning widow is native to western and central Europe, but it has also naturalized in other parts of Europe as well as portions of Africa and Asia. It is commonly found growing in woodlands and sub-alpine meadows.

Thanks to AnneTanne@Flickr of Belgium for sharing this picture via the UBCBG Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Geranium phaeum

8 responses to “Geranium phaeum”

  1. Ivan Johnston, Sr.

    What is a type key? How do I use it to communicate with you better? What is URL? I’m not that familiar with this acronym?
    I love your web site.
    I have traveled to every continent on this earth, and have loved flowers, ever since my mother introduced me to them,lo those many years ago.
    I have been photographing wild flowers in the “Rockies” this past year. We had a very compressed spring and summer. This was due to abundant snow fall,and very late warming in the region where I was, 7500′ This bloom was abundant,and stunningly spectacular. My problem is, I don’t have a clue as to what the names of these beautiful gifts of nature are? I will submit a photograph to you and await your answer. Thank you.

  2. Eric in SF

    Ivan – in addition to the user forums here at the UBCBG website, there are many many dedicated, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic botany folks on Flickr: who love identifying unknown plants from people around the world.

  3. Scott McGillivray

    Very exotic flower, to say we got the boring ones is an understatement, wish we could fill our gardens with this type of exotica thanks for the great picture, Scott

  4. AnneTanne

    It’s nice to see a picture of mine on this website.
    However, the location is not ‘the Netherlands’, but Belgium. (I live not far from the border, and am permitted to post my wildflower pictures in ‘Nederland in bloei’, so hence the confusion I suppose.)

  5. Meg Bernstein

    Thanks for straightening out the difference.

  6. Craig MacCloskey

    anza borrego and central oregon floweers

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks for the clarification, Anne — and yes, that was the confusion. I’ve fixed it.

  8. Margaret-Rae Davis

    It was so nice to see this true Geramium. The color is so different than any I have ever seen.
    I appreicate the information.
    Thank you,

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