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Products > Geranium maderense
Geranium maderense - Madeira Island Geranium

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Geraniaceae (Geraniums)
Origin: Madeira Islands (Atlantic Ocean)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Mauve
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Geranium maderense (Madeira Island Geranium) - This giant geranium from the island of Madeira is the largest of the Geranium species and technically is a biennial, but the large palmately dissected dark green leaves are so attractive that it is easy to like the plant for its foliage and be patient for the blooms. The plant forms a mass of this foliage to about 3 feet tall and wide and when in flower in mid spring, it can reach to 5 feet tall with its massive many-branched inflorescence of 1 inch wide mauve-pink dark centered flowers rising well above the foliage. The flowering stems and sepals are all covered with purple hairs that catch the light and decorate the plant further. After flowering, these hairs remain attractive for several weeks. It will take full coastal sun but in light shade this plant is quite drought tolerant in cooler coastal gardens, even surviving in areas without any supplemental irrigation. It is hardy to about 25 degrees - much below this and tip foliage wilts but plants survive and still bloom. Flowering usually commences on a 2 year old seedling but sometimes lingers to a third. Cut back when plants topple from the weight of the spent flowers but be sure to spread the seed for the next year. The following year after flowering one can enjoy the foliage, then thin out the seedlings as they approach blooming time but use care not to remove the lower leaves of the plants that are left as these act as stilts to support the tower of flowers to come. Geranium maderense is a rare endemic from the island of Madeira, off the north coast of Africa and north of the Canary Islands, where it grows as an understory plant of the laurel forest. This plant was described in 1969 by Peter Frederick Yeo, a botanist at the University of Cambridge, from plants in cultivation that had been introduced by a Major C.H. C. Pickering, who had discovered plants growing in the wild on the Island of Madeira in the 1950s. Yeo determined this plant was distinct from the similar but smaller Geranium palmatum. The etymology of the genus name Geranium, and the family Geraniaceae, is derived from the Greek word, 'geranos' which means "crane" from the seed capsule's resemblance to beak of this bird. The specific epithet is a Latinized word that roughly translates to "from Madeira" in reference to this plants origin. Other common names include Giant Cranesbill, Madeiran Cranesbill or Giant Herb-Robert - this last name is interesting as it references the resemblance to a large form of the malodorous Geranium robertianum, which itself has such interesting common names as Herb-Robert, Stinking Robert and Death Come-quickly that originate from English folklore. This plant was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993, the same year the San Marcos Growers began growing it. We also grow the white flowered form of this species Geranium maderense 'Alba'  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Geranium maderense.