Geraniums and Pelargoniums
Today, geraniums and pelargoniums are in our gardens, window boxes, outdoor pots, and houses; most of them descend from plants brought from South Africa to Europe in the eighteenth century. Despite continuing confusion in modern plant catalogues and among the general public, pelargoniums and geraniums each belong to a distinct scientific genus. One secret to their successful spread is the fact that many pelargoniums and geraniums have a fleshy root that allowed them to survive the long ocean voyage after being uprooted from the Cape soils. These plants proliferate in eighteenth-century garden books.
John Martyn’s Historia plantarum rariorum features several beautifully illustrated geraniums. The plates, engraved by Elisha Kirkall, are printed in color and finished by hand.