Facts & Folkore:
Pelargonium comes from the Greek; Pelargos meaning stork, yielding their alternative names, Storkbills, due to the shape of their fruit. For this particular variety, Quercifolium. Despite their common name, scented geraniums are unrelated to the true geranium (Geranium maculatum), or cranesbill, whose lovely rose pink flowers are often found growing wild in temperate woodlands. They are, rather, members of the Pelargonium genus, which includes the beloved garden geranium that's cultivated in window boxes and ornamental gardens throughout the country. Semi-woody and tender, these perennials are native to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africafers to the oak shaped leaves. Fragrant pelargoniums are divided into six or seven major categories (depending on which authority you follow) according to their predominant scents and growth habits: rose, lemon, mint, fruit and nut, spice, pungent, and oak-leaved, all with a special flower language meaning. Altogether there are some 80 varieties available, yet at one time there were more than 250. The original herbs were introduced to Europe from South Africa in the early 1600's and attracted so much attention that by 1652 the Dutch East India Company had established a brisk trade in the plants. Specimens were sent to Holland, where they were multiplied and hybridized.With the advent of World War I and its concomitant fuel shortages, greenhouse production of ornamental plants was banned. As a result, propagation of scented geraniums fell into a decline, and many hybrids were lost.
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