Hardy geranium, scientifically known as Geranium, refers to a genus of perennial and annual flowering shrubs native to most regions of southern Africa and the Mediterranean. Some of its species bear fruits, while others produce seeds only through their flowers. These plants are commonly used as greenhouse plants because of their ability to rapidly convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Other names for this genus are jolly bee and cranesbill, which pertain to the appearance of the shrub's cranesbill-shaped fruits. More than 200 species fall within this genus, the majority of which can be found growing on mountains of subtropic areas.
These herbaceous plants have either lobed or fork-like green leaves that sprout alternately in pairs, while the flowers are radial with exactly five petals exhibiting a variety of colors such as violet, pink, and white. The stalks are straight and woody and can reach lengths of 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 m). Fruit capsules develop at the tip of the stalks, which eventually open and release a single seed. Not all species of hardy geranium have these capsules, but they all bear single seeds from each flower. The seasons of spring and summer provide the most conducive conditions for these herbs to produce fruits and flowers.
A hardy geranium is commonly used as an accent or cover plant for gardens because the shrub is known to multiply rapidly over a medium-sized backyard, even with minimum care. Conventionally garden-grown species include Geranium pretense, Geranium maderense, and Geranium clarkei, all of which produce blue or violet blossoms. Certain species of butterflies and moths are greatly attracted to its fruits and flowers, making it a popular option for butterfly farms and insectariums. All three garden varieties reach a maximum height of approximately 2 feet (0.6 m).
The genus Pelargonium is commonly mistaken for hardy geranium because the term geranium is used as a common name for Pelargonium. These genera belong to the same Geraniaceae family, but they can be distinguished by their flowers. Blossoms of hardy geranium have petals with uniform size, color, and shape, while the other genus has flowers that display more than one petal color and shape.
Aromatic oils are also extracted from hardy geranium leaves and flowers. These oils are infused into perfumes and flavorings that are widely sold and manufactured in countries like India and Greece. Some cosmetic products such as makeup and body lotions also make use of this herb’s natural extracts.