Pelargonium sidoides – Pelargonium

Found in Glasshouse number 3 at Chelsea Physic Garden.

Most species of pelargoniums come from South Africa, with a few from other parts of Africa and the Middle East and a few from Australia.

Chelsea Physic Garden was one of the first places in the country where pelargoniums were grown, with records of them on this site dating back to 1724. Centuries later, Professor Mary Gibby used material grown at the Garden to research the origin and evolutionary relationships of pelargoniums from the South West Cape Province based on DNA analysis.

Pelargoniums have been used medicinally and in beauty products for centuries. Pelargonium sidoides is important in both traditional Zulu and modern western herbal medicine. Zulu tribes used it to treat ailments including skin disorders and stomach problems. A number of recent studies suggest that Pelargonium sidoides does have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Pelargonium graveolens is the key ingredient in geranium oil, which is used in a wide range of beauty products from body care lotions to perfumes.

As well as being historic and demonstrating the uses of these plants to people, our range of pelargoniums shows the different ways a plant can evolve to find its evolutionary niche.

Pelargonium cotyledonis is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Critically Endangered (CR).

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