Pelargoniums vs geraniums

Anne Gilbert avgilbert at PRODIGY.NET
Wed Oct 9 21:07:43 UTC 2002


> Arnold's exasperation over the distinction reminded me of long-buried
> memories of my first year in California (at UCLA), when I was quickly
> corrected every time I expressed admiration and amazement at the
> "geraniums" growing so luxuriantly everywhere. After awhile I learned to
> make the distinction, though "geraniums" sold here in Tucson often look
> suspiciously like pelargoniums.
>         Reminds me also (re an earlier discussion) of the sign in Safeway
> here for "yams" posted above a box (from California) labeled "sweet
> potatoes".

Technically(that is botanically), geraniums *are* pelargoniums and what are
usually labeled "yams" in grocery stores are sweet potatoes.  I don't know
why whoever was "correcting" you about the use of "geranium" was so stuffy.
Up here in backward Seattle, these plants are and always have been,
geraniums.  And stores still call sweet potatoes yams.  People would
probably "get it" if you labeled "yams" as "sweet potatoes", since people
are more or less familiar with the latter.  But calling a geranium a
pelargonium?  It's kind of like calling an "African violet" a
saintpaulia(which, botanically speaking, is what an African violet is).
Nobody would know what you were referring to.  Except maybe at a botanist's
Anne G

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