Pelargonium tomentosum is an aromatic, low-growing,
sprawling subshrub with branches spreading in all directions. The
presence of soft hairs and numerous glandular hairs, lends a velvety
touch to the leaves and stems. The peppermint-scented, simple leaves
are showy, especially when covered with morning dew.
tiny, white flowers with purple markings on the petals are borne
in a much-branched inflorescence, from spring to summer (October
to January). The species name tomentosum refers to the leaves,
which are thickly and evenly covered with short, curved, matted
The genus Pelargonium belongs to the family Geraniaceae
which consists of four more genera; Geranium, Erodium, Monsonia
and Sarcocaulon. The genus Pelargonium consists of
± 220 species, most of which occur naturally in southern
Pelargonium tomentosum is confined to mountains where it
occurs naturally in semi-shaded, moist habitats, on the margins
of ravine forests near streams. It grows in sandy soil derived from
sandstone. This plant is common and occurs on the Hottentots Holland
Mountains near Somerset West, on the Riviersonderend Mountains near
Greyton, and on the Langeberg Range from Swellendam to Riversdale
in the southern Cape.
Pelargonium tomentosum is an attractive garden plant. It
can be used as a ground cover in semi-shady, moist areas, providing
that the soil drains well. It can also be used on embankments in
semi-shaded areas or grown in pots, provided they drain well. The
peppermint-scented leaves can also be used as a culinary herb. Barbara
Hey (1994) suggests lining the tin with them before baking a chocolate
Growing Pelargonium tomentosum
tomentosum grows easily from cuttings . Stem cuttings of ±
10 cm in length are taken in autumn (March to May ) and spring (September
to November ) The cuttings are then dipped into a suitable rooting
hormone powder, and placed in trays containing coarse river sand
which has been watered with a fungicide. These trays are then placed
into cold frames or a shady spot.
When planting in the garden, choose a semi-shaded position for
this plant and keep the soil reasonably damp, but not water-logged.
The plant responds very well to applications of organic, seaweed-based
fertilizer in spring (September to November ) and summer (December
to February). Remove old or damaged leaves to keep it looking at
its best and site it where you will enjoy the silvery beauty of
its velvety, dew-spangled leaves.
HEY, B. 1994. A South African guide to herbs. Struik, Cape
VAN DER WALT, J.J.A. et al. 1981. Pelargoniums of southern Africa,
vol. 2. Juta, Cape Town.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens