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Common Name: Nutmeg Geranium
Pelargonium fragrans is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
A naturally occurring hybrid, P. exstipulatum. x P. odoratissimum, found in the highlands of the Karoo[
Requires a light well-drained neutral to alkaline soil in a sunny position[
Plants are not very hardy in Britain, 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[
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[
The leaves have a strong scent of pine[
There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[
The crushed leaves are used to flavour jellies, cakes, fruit dishes, vinegars etc[
]. They give a spicy flavour to coffee[
All parts of the plant are astringent[
]. The leaves are used externally as a rub for aching feet or legs[
]. They can be harvested as required and used fresh[
An essential oil is obtained from the plant. It has a nutmeg fragrance[
]. The essential oil is an effective inhibitor of hydrochloric acid corrosion when coated over steel[
The dried leaves are added to pot-pourri[
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.