Actually anything that can be done to reduce the confusion round these plants' taxonomy is welcome to me! Pelargoniums do my head in with all their species, sub-groups and varieties. The most reliable and clear explanation of them all that I can find is at PAGS - the Pelargonium and Geranium Society in Britain.
They also have a little Pelargonium cookbook available in their shop - 'Geranium cookery'. (They do mean pelargoniums though! :)
Are they really foraging fare?
Well, they are a lot like lavender and rosemary, in that they haven't escaped from gardens and become weeds ... they just look like they want to.
They stand on the edges of gardens, poking out through fences, or at the street ends of driveways, or out on grass verges, just public enough that you can whip a few leaves or flowers off. And they grow vigorously.
They all have edible leaves that you can boil as a vegetable, and the petals are a pretty addition to salads.
Most exciting of all are the scented Pelargoniums. The leaves have glands that give off a strong scented oil. The fragrances range from apple, to mint, to rose, to lemon, to spice ... and more.
Pour boiling water over them to make tea, flavour ice cream or jelly with them, chop them up and put them in biscuits, or line a caketin with them for the flavour to permeate the cake.
Here's a lovely webpage with a brief look at their history in the west, as well as some delicious looking recipes, both sweet and savoury.
Google will reveal many more recipes.
This Way Up, Richard and I looked at a Pelargonium graveolens - often known as a 'rose geranium'. (Its essential oil is a staple of the aromatherapist's and natural perfumer's palette!)
Richard thought it smelled more like lemon; I thought it was more rosy, although I get a bit of the lemoniness too.
From what I understand (please someone correct me if I'm wrong!) there are range of different fragrant compounds in Pelargonium graveolens, and in some varieties (and perhaps individual specimens) one scent will come to the fore, while in others, another scent will.
I'm guessing this particular Pelargonium graveolens had a lot of both the rosy and the lemony scent, and Richard and I, with our different noses, each perceived the overall fragrance differently .... Kind of like two people will look at the same colour, and one say it's blue while the other will say it's green.
Pelargoniums are not flowering much round here yet, but their leaves are both diverse and distinctive. Here are some google images.
Above photos of Pelargoniums courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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