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Monday, May 11, 2009

Wildemalva (Pelargonium cucullatum)

The West Coast had its first winter rains, and 9000 species of flowering plants are gearing up for spring which is almost four months away. Even before Nature breaths the word 'spring', the wild geraniums burst into flower. I made this very fast and impressionistic painting to show the abundant foliage and the loose clusters of flowers bearing toward the light.

We love our little SASOL field guide to fynbos of Southern Africa, and I am going to use their descriptions to add to my own. This flowering plant is one of the parents of the Regal pelargonium hybrids. The leaves contain essential oils that are extracted and used in traditional medicines to treat coughs and chest complaints. About 250 different Pelargonium species are known from Africa, Madagascar, the Middle East and Australia, but mostly from here where we are at the moment. The florist geraniums that are a favourite in many window boxes worldwide are popularly thought to be of European origin, but are actually Pelargonium hybrids.


  1. I planted geraniums this spring in my planters on the terrace... and couldn't help but think you your wild pelargonium with the while wall background. Beautiful painting, Marie!

  2. Lovely, lovely painting!

    Marie, you asked for some comments on the wonderfully fragrant Geranium oil produced from these plants. Geranium, although it has a calming effect, is one of the most revitalising essential oils - after a hard day, or before a special event, a few drops of pure Geranium essential oil in the bath will create the necessary peace of mind to either paint the town red, or settle peacefully for the evening.

    One has to be very careful when buying this oil, though - different blends of other essential oils are marketed as Geranium, so buy only the best quality available. Pure Geranium oil is quite expensive, steer clear of essential oils marketed at a similar price. Production costs on the oils vary in relation to the methods of extraction and the amount of oil that can be extracted from a certain weigth of plant material.

    Because Geranium oil is both calming and revitalising, it is therefore the perfect essential oil to add to a burner wherever there is a gathering of people, whether for work or pleasure. It clears the mind and soothes ruffled feathers, resulting in good decisions and a stress-free atmosphere!

    One or two drops of the oil on the bedding at night will keep our ever-present mosquitoes at bay and ensure a good night's sleep.

  3. Thank you, Maxi, did you do this in May already? Maxi is the author of a best-selling Afrikaans book on Aromapathy. I wonder, Maxi, can we do anything with a branch of wild pelargonium, like steeping it in water for a room freshener? I haven't tried yet, but the plant is absolutely everywhere at the moment and has a very strong aroma. Does it keep insects at bay in the garden, as well?


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