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Common Name: Lemon Geranium
Pelargonium crispum is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 0.70 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Dry lower slopes in sandy soil amongst boulders in the south-west Cape[
Requires a light well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in a sunny position[
]. Plants are tolerant of some shade[
]. In order to maintain their native habit, plants require fairly dry conditions in a very sunny position[
Plants are not very cold-hardy in Britain, tolerating temperatures down to about -3°c[
]. They generally require greenhouse protection but might succeed outdoors when grown in a very sheltered warm spot in the mildest parts of the country[
]. They can also be grown in containers that are placed outdoors in the summer and then brought into the greenhouse or conservatory for the winter[
]. The plants need to be kept fairly dry in the winter[
The bruised leaves release a strong lemon scent, rather like lemon verbena[
Very tolerant of pruning, they can be cut right down to the base in the autumn when bringing them back indoors, or in the spring to encourage lots of fresh growth[
A number of named varieties have been selected for their ornamental and/or culinary value[
The leaves have a pleasant lemon aroma[
]. They are crushed and used to flavour soups, fruit dishes, jellies, sorbets, ice-cream, cakes etc[
]. Cake pans can be lined with the leaves and the pastry will be infused with their essence[
An infusion of the leaves is used as a tea[
All parts of the plant are astringent[
]. It can be harvested as required and used fresh[
An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and young shoots. Strawberry and citral-scented[
], it is used in perfumery and soap making[
]. The essential oil is an effective inhibitor of hydrochloric acid corrosion when coated over steel[
The leaves are dried for pot-pourri and for making herb pillows[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Stored seed should be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best with a minimum temperature of 13°c, germination usually taking place within 2 weeks though it sometimes takes some months[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. If trying them outdoors, plant them out in early summer and consider giving them extra protection during the winter.
Cuttings succeed at almost any time in the growing season but early summer is the best time in order for the new plant to become established before winter.