Gander at these Geraniums

Featured flowers: highlighting Cal Poly Humboldt’s fabulous flora
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by Nina Hufman

These lavender-blue blooms belong to the Wallich geranium, also known as the Wallich cranesbill. The full scientific name of this species is Geranium wallichianum. The flowers pictured here are of the Buxton’s Blue variety, distinguishable by their purplish-blue petals with pale centers and purple veins.

Like other species of geranium, Wallich geranium flowers have five petals and five sepals, the green leaf-like structures surrounding the petals. The plants grow low to the ground and have wide leaves with three to five lobes. Another noticeable feature of these flowers is their dark purple stamens, or pollen organs, that project from the flowers’ centers. Stamens are usually present in multiples of five. The National Gardening Association says that Wallich geraniums are pollinated by various insects including honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden Association, Wallich geraniums are native to highland regions in the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Kashmir. These hardy plants can grow at elevations up to 3500 meters. The Buxton’s Blue variety is a result of a naturally occurring, whole plant mutation and was discovered by Sylvia Morrow in 1999. This particular variant received a U.S. Plant Patent in 2010.

Wallich geraniums belong to the herbaceous family Geraniaceae. This group of flowering plants is characterized by low-growing foliage, lobed leaves, and floral features such as petals, sepals and stamens in multiples of five.

According to nativeplants.org, members of Geraniaceae either actively eject their seeds or use hook-like structures to grip onto the fur of animals in order to disperse their seeds. In addition to geranium, the Geraniaceae family includes the genuses Erodium and Pelargonium.

Wallich geraniums can be seen in several places in the Cal Poly Humboldt campus, including in the flower bed in front of the theater building. These plants bloom throughout the spring and summer, so we can look forward to seeing these lavender-blue blossoms in the months to come.

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