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Origin and Habitat: Pelargonium appendiculatum is endemic to the Leipoldtville area of South Africa (near Clanwilliam), where it grow on deep sandy or clayey soils.
FRENCH (Français): Pélargone a grandes stipules
Description: Pelargonium appendiculatum is a geophyte (tuberous) plant to 30 cm tall with a very short stem, covered with grey, irregularly incised, feathery leaves. The flowers are white or pale yellow. (ex Section Hoarea, now Section Ligularia). The ear-shaped, exceptionally broad and rigid stipules, and the silky, decompound leaves distinguish this plant from all allied species. Pelargonium pulchellum has somewhat similar stipules, but very different leaves. They grow through the winter and the foliage completely vanish in summer when dormant.
Derivation of specific name: The epithet appendiculatum refers to the large stipules.
Tuber (rootstock): Underground, nearly globose to cylindrical, branching with time, with numerous growing points, older plants forming clumps to 50 cm accoss.
Stem: Scarcely any or very short.
Leaves: Nearly all radical, on long, villous petioles, 2- to 3- pinnately compound, 7-10 cm long, lamina elliptic to ovate in outline, greyish-green, densely silky and villous, with the leaflets finely and irregularly incised into many narrow-linear, obtuse lobes. Hairs glandular. Stipules very conspicuous, dilated broadly ovate, or ear-shaped, rigid, coriaceous, spreading, ribbed united and decurrent with the base of the petioles for 2/3 of their length, often 2.5 cm wide.
Inflorescence: Flower stalk hairy rather taller than the leaves divided a little above the base into 1-3 angular strongly furrowed branches each bearing a hairy umbel of 8-15 smallish rose coloured flowers on long stalks with densely hairy bracts.
Flowers: Hypanthium (flower's tube) long 8–10 times as long as the hispid, linear, obtuse sepals. Petals 5, pale yellow, upper 2 spatulate with small pale pink or dark red blotches in the centre, lower 3 ligulate. Fertile stamens 5, of different lengths; pollen orange.
Blooming season: Pelargonium appendiculatum is an early flowering species (September to October in habitat). These plants bloom normally and seed can be produced by pollinating two different plants and the seed heads carry up to five seeds in a cluster that scatter when ripe.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Abraham Rees “The Cyclopædia: Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature” Volume 26 Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown [etc. ], 1819
2) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
3) William J. Webb “The Pelargonium Family: The Species of Pelargonium, Monsonia, and Sarcocaulon” Croom Helm, 1984
4) W. H. Harvey “Flora Capensis” Vol 1, page 254, 1894
5) B. Womack:1/2014 “HOW TO GROW SARCOCAULON AND PELARGONIUM SUCCULENT SPECIES” CACTUS and SUCCULENT SOCIETY of NEW MEXICO P.O. Box 21357 Albuquerque, New Mexico 87154-1357 <http://www.new-mexico.cactus-society.org>
Pelargonium appendiculatum Photo by: Giuseppe Distefano
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Cultivation and Propagation: Pelargonium appendiculatum grows on winter rain and heads for summer dormancy and this means autumn is the time to encourage sprouting. The growing season in northern hemisphere is from September to March. Paying attention to the particular growing requirement of Pelargonium appendiculatum is especially important. The growing season for these plants starts as daylight and temperature decrease; this is usually mid-August. This is when you can increase watering. Pelargonium appendiculatum, completely vanish when dormant. They grow through the winter, requiring strong light and light fertilization when watered. If you provide it with the right conditions, it will reward you with its unique shape and size. However, this is a tricky plant that is very particular about its growing conditions and require the right maintenance in order to keep happy. These plants do better in a greenhouse than indoors.
Soil: It does best with a mix that has almost no organic material at all. Perlite can be substituted for pumice, but it tends to rise to the surface of the mixture. It can grows outdoor in sunny, dry, rock crevices (protection against winter wet is required).
Repotting: Avoid to repot frequently. This plant may stay in the same pot for many years.
Fertilization: Be careful not to apply too much fertilizer. Feed it once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (poor in nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. It thrives in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases. Ensure a very good ventilation.
Light requirements: Light shade or morning sun in summer (avoid direct sun as it grows wild among rocks and under the shade of other plants) and in summer it need to be kept in a cool area.
Watering: Water from early February to late April, then from early August to late November, at a minimum temperature of +14° C. These plants usually go dormant around April and dormancy can involve loss of all foliage. Cut back watering and stop fertilizing at this time. Keep completely dry in summer and winter, at a minimum temperature of +8° C. Pelargonium appendiculatum in cultivation is usually so overwatered and overfertilized. Correctly grown, this is a beautiful, compact and dense plant. A dry dormant periods help keep plant growth from becoming too lush and seem to promote regular blooming.
Hardiness: Protect from frost. Getting too hot in winter can cause plants to return to dormancy.
Pests and diseases: These plants stay mostly pest-free but can be troubled, especially if over-stressed, by mealy bugs and mites.
Reproduction: Seeds. Plant seeds any time of the year, but a autumn sowing of seeds is usually most successful (months of August-November in northern hemisphere). Seeds need cool temperature to sprout. Plant seeds with the tip pressed all the way down and the tall stem sticking up or broken off (either way, it doesn't seem to matter). Keep seeds moist until they germinate, using distilled water. But seeds germinate in spring too. Germination can be very erratic, and can take place over a long period of time so do not throw away the sowing tray as some seeds sprout after being in the pot for more then a year (and seem to need the heat of summer in order to break dormancy). Seedlings have pretty good initial growth, reaching a handleable size in a year, but seems best to grow them on for two years before to try to transplant them. There is a way of overcoming the long time periods and the inhibitors; that is, by scarifying the seeds.
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