Pelargonium parviflorum Wendl.

The Genus
Some History
The Sections



Further Reading
Links & resources


Coll. Plant. Exotic. 2 (1810) 69-70, tab. 66.
Section Otidia

Highly succulent to almost non-succulent shrub up to 15 cm, usually smaller. Stems either long and thick or dwarf and thin. Bark green, smooth, microscopically pubescent. Moderately to highly succulent leaves borne on dwarf shoots. Rootstock simple, consisting of several small connected tubers or of a single thick root.

P. parviflorum ssp. parviflorum, Alexander Bay

P. parviflorum ssp. rotundipetalum, Kuboes

P. parviflorum ssp. tuberculum, Aus

Incised to pinnately divided, very variable, chanelled along the midrib, 2-7 x 3-25 cm. Petioles 1-10 cm. Stipules membraneous, small.

P. parviflorum ssp. parviflorum

Branched inflorescence up to 15 cm tall, with 2-10 pseudumbels. Pedicel 0.5-2 mm.

P. parviflorum ssp. parviflorum, Alexander Bay

P. parviflorum ssp. parviflorum, Loeriesfontein

P. parviflorum ssp. parviflorum inflorescence, Alexander Bay

P. parviflorum ssp. rotundipetalum inflorescence, Kuboes

5, recurved. Hypanthium 3-6 mm.

5, ovate, always shorter to subequal to petals, sometimes very small or absent, never sharply curved. White, cream to pink colour, mostly without markings.

5, of equal length.


Full circles: ssp. parviflorum
Empty circles: ssp. rotundipetalum
ssp. tuberculum
ssp. karasbergense
Please see the note below regarding subspecies status.
The subspecies hybridize freely, and most populations between Steinkopf and Garies are hybrids. 
P. parviflorum also hybridizes with P. carnosum.


The habitat of the species as a whole extends throughout the winter rainfall region with 100-250 mm of rain annually, except ssp. karasbergense, which is found in the year-round rainfall region and also frequently exposed to winter frosts. The plains just south of Alexander Bay in N Cape are home to ssp. parviflorum with extremely thick branches (top of the page), some of these plants are close to 15 cm tall or even taller and must be extremely old. 

Yet, beauty can be found in the harshest environments. Here, an incredible Babiana namaquensis close to the knobbly P.parviflorum shrubs of their own prehistoric allure. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The plants between Steinkopf and Garies start life underground and develop only a single leaf annually until they grow a short upright stem. Above is a young plant from the vicinity of Kamieskroon. In contrast to the typical ssp. parviflorum from Alexander Bay, the inflorescences of these plants are very tall, resembling those of 
P. carnosum ssp. ferulaceum. It is thought that many of these plants are hybrids.

The flowers of the Kamieskroon P. parviflorum are for all intents and purposes typical of the species: short pedicels and petals shorter than sepals. However, markings on the posterior petals and the tall inflorescences (in the case of the above plant this was 60 cm) are not typical for P. parviflorum.   

brevipetalum N. E. Brown
eberlanzii Knuth
"rotundipetalum" Vorster

M. Becker, Revision der Pelargonium - Sektion Otidia (Geraniaceae) aus dem Winterregengebiet des südlichen Afrikas und Bewertung evolutiver Strategien der Pelargonien aus der Capensis, PhD Thesis, University of Münster, 2006.

In the Thesis, M. Becker proposed four subspecies, however, since the Thesis does not have an ISBN number, the subspecies cannot be considered as formally published. A journal publication is planned. The following is a key to subspecies based on notes made upon reading the Thesis: 

1. Root system without tubers or thickened roots. 

1a. Petals cream to yellowish.
Small shrubs up to 10 x 10 cm, highly succulent. Hypocotyl thicker with age. Leaves highly succulent, inflorescence highly branched, with up to 10 pseudoumbels, each with up to 15 flowers. Petals about 1/2 as long as sepals, without markings.

     Pelargonium parviflorum ssp. parviflorum

1b. Petals white [to light pink - Ed.].
Main stem up to 15 cm tall and 3 cm thick, moderately succulent, leaves moderately to highly succulent. Inflorescence moderately branched with 3-6 pseudo-umbels of up to 10 flowers, non-scented, petals rounded, almost as long as sepals, unmarked. 

      Pelargonium parviflorum ssp. rotundipetalum

2. Root system with tubers or thickened roots.

2a. Roots with round to elongated tubers of up to 5 cm, almost always with a thin section between hypocotyl and the tubers.
Up to 15 cm tall, succulent, cyllindrical, Leaves succulent. Inflorescence moderately branched, with 3-6 pseudo-umbels, each with up to 12 flowers. Flowers smell of vanilla, petals round, white to cream, about 2/3 as long as sepals. Posterior petals occasionally with pink markings.

      Pelargonium parviflorum ssp. tuberculum

1b. Main root thick (2-3 cm) and up to 30 cm long, never with thin sections.
Up to several branches, never taller than 7 cm, 5-8 mm thick, barely succulent. Leaves semi-succulent. Inflorescence barely branched, with 2-3 pseudo-umbels of up to 10 flowers, non-scented, petals rounded, white to pink, almost as long as sepals, unmarked. 

      Pelargonium parviflorum
ssp. karasbergense

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