Sunday, December 11, 2011

Geranium maderense: its beauty captivate the gardeners

Its life is short, between two and four years, but after its death it leaves thousands of seeds that germinate around the corpse of their mother and fill of color and life the underbrushes partially shaded that are their favourite habitat. The Geranium maderense, that as its name indicates is endemic to Madeira Island, has captivated to the fans to the gardening of all the regions of the World with a similar climate to the humid original one, that is to say, subtropical and Mediterranean without frosts.

 Flowers and fruits of Geranium maderense cultivated in the Funchal Botanical Garden of Madeira.

In the coastal zones of California it is feral and covers great surfaces with a spectacular flowering. So it is adapted to live on trash of the underbrushes that even colonizes the acid and toxic ground of the great plantations of eucalyptus, where very few plants are able to survive the toxicity of oils and essences of their leaves in decomposition.

 Magnificent unit of Geranium maderense of almost two meters of height growing in the semishade of several palms in the Funchal Botanical Garden. I recommend to extend the photos with a double click.

In wild state it is a relatively little plant. In my trip to Madeira I was not able to see it growing in its natural habitat, only in the Funchal Botanical Garden and some particular garden. I have also seen it in the Faial Botanical Garden of the Azores Archipelago, in the Botanical Garden of La Orotava in Tenerife, in the Lisbon Botanical Garden and in the Soller Botanical Garden in Majorca, where they cultivate by far success in the underbrush of a small copse of Macaronesian Laurisilva. Ever since they seeded the first unit more ago than 10 years it has been reproduced by itself through its own seeds as the least units died. 

Group of Geranium maderense in the heat of flowering in the middle of May. Their luminous flowers fill of color the underbrush of palms and trees of Laurisilva in the Funchal botanical Garden.

Leaves of a young unit of Geranium maderense cultivated in the Soller Botanical Garden.

Luminous flower of Geranium maderense with an immature fruit to its side, photographed in the Lisbon Botanical Garden at the beginning of May. 

Its success is so great that it is sold in multitude of breeding grounds of gardening worldwide and their seeds can be bought easily by Internet with Visa without needing leaving house. Already they are even commercialized some mutant varieties with garnet and white flowers.  

Another flower of Geranium maderense. Extending the photo the detail of the abundant glandulous hairiness can be appreciated that covers the stems with this Geraniaceae. 

Within years it is possible that they will be obtained mutant varieties resistant to the cold that can survive the frosts and that will be able to exceed the maximum limit of four years of life and they even become perennial. How more it is cultivated a plant, more possibilities there are that they are isolate new varieties with interesting mutations. The time will tell it. 

At the moment this Macaronesian plant has captivated the gardeners by its beauty and from its tiny Atlantic island it has been able to extend its population of an exponential way to practically all the regions with mediterranean and subtropical climate of the Earth. Many plants like this geranium that in their region of origin are little or even are in extinction danger when they are cultivated are a spectacular successful. 

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