Hybrid geranium (Pelargonium hortorum).—John H. Gerard

Any of the approximately 300 species of perennial herbaceous plants or shrubs that make up the genus Geranium (family Geraniaceae), native mostly to subtropical southern Africa. They are among the most popular bedding and greenhouse plants. The closely related genus Pelargonium contains some 280 species of annual, biennial, and perennial herbaceous plants also commonly called geraniums. The showy, or Martha Washington, geraniums (P. x domesticum) have large pansylike flowers, few to the cluster. Some geraniums are grown as basket plants indoors and out; they are also used as ground covers in warm areas. Some species have fragrant leaves. Geranium oil smells like roses and is used chiefly in perfumes, soaps, and ointments.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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