Thursday, 21 September 2017

Geranium orientalitibeticum New to Britain

Nicky Vernon and Bruce Brown sent me a brilliant list of records a few weeks back for a site in the middle of nowhere, or as good as for this part of the world, up on Draughton Moor (VC64). Amongst an impressive assemblage of garden escapes one name jumped out at me - Geranium orientali-tibeticum. I did not really doubt it given the recorders, and also because it is quite a distinctive species with its yellow marbled leaves. But being a Crane's-bill fan (verging on a stamp collector when it comes to Dusky Crane's-bill Geranium phaeum and its ilk) I wanted to see more. The weather has not yet allowed me to pay homage in person, so I was very pleased today to hear Nicky and Bruce had been back and taken photographs (below).

To the best of my knowledge this species has never been recorded growing wild in Britain and Ireland (based on the BSBI Distribution Database). A slight surprise given this is a relatively well known garden plant, perhaps a little old fashioned these days, which spreads prolifically by rhizomes. The latter trait probably identifies one reason why it is less widely grown these days, and is also a possible means for its arrival at the site. Nicky notes that trees had been planted nearby so it may have come with these, or with the Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora), another thug, growing nearby.

Photo by Ghislain118 via Wikimedia Commons

And if you are wondering whether to hyphen (as commonly done) or not, this is neatly and honestly explained by Peter Yeo in his monograph on the genus. The hyphen was added by him to make it easier to read and pronounce the name, and is not strictly correct. I can see his point.

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