|Pelargonium alchemilloides (L.) L'Hérit.|
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Ait. Hort. Kew. ed. 1,2: (1789) 419.
Decumbent, perennial herb, ca. 20 cm tall, stems herbaceous, slender, slightly branched, often straggling, up to 80 cm long. Roots woody stoloniferous to tuberous. Stems covered with patent hairs, glands sessile.
Round in outline, hispid to pubescent especially along the veins with appressed hairs, base cordate, 2-11 cm in diameter. Palmatifid to palmatipartite, margins crenate to serrate. Purple, brown or dark red-zoned. Stipules ovate or broadly ovate, 5-17.5 x 2-17 mm.
Pseudo umbel with (3)5-8(15) flowers, peduncle 6-25(30), glandular and pubescent, bracts few to numerous. Pedicel 0.5 mm.
Five, narrowly oblong to lanceolate, 1.8-3.5 x 7-10 mm, pubescent. Hypanthium 16-45 mm.
5, white, sometimes pink to dark red, posterior (9)13-18 x (3)6-8(-9) mm, anterior 8-16 x 3-8 mm, oblanceolate to spathulate.
(5-)7 fertile, 3.5-6.8 mm long.
The dstribution of P. alchemilloides in RSA is depicted above. Distribution of the species as a whole: RSA, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen. In South Africa, P. alchemilloides ssp. alchemilloides can be found, only.
In many areas of South Africa, especially those with a little more rainfall, non-native plants have become quite invasive. Once possibly imported as garden plants, these cacti are quite frequent around Cradock, where the above photograph of P. alchemilloides has been taken.
abyssinicum R. Br.
aphanoides (Thunb.) DC.
aphanoides Eckl. & Zeyh.
articulatum Eckl. & Zeyh.
geranioides (Eckl. & Zeyh.) Steud.
malvaefolium Jacq. f.
P. alchemilloides is a complex species. Knuth recognized four species and two varieties, while Kokwaro recognized one species with two subspecies:
P. alchemilloides ssp. alchemilloides
P. alchemilloides ssp. multibracteatum (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) Kokwaro
the latter differing in hypanthium being 38-50 mm, longer than the schizocarp (20-37 mm). Gibby concludes that "several taxa can be distinguished ... that deserve recognition either at specific, subspecific or varietal rank."
Kokwaro J. O. (1971), Gibby M. (1990).
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