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Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Distribution and habitatThis pelargonium species has a
rather limited distribution in the Langeberg range in the southern Western Cape.
It is only known over a range of not more than 50 km, from the vicinity of
Montagu in the west to near Riversdale in the east. It occurs mostly at
altitudes of 300 to 600 m. Near the coast it forms a component of the vegetation
type Coastal Renosterbos veld, dominated by Elytropappus rhinocerotis. In the
mountains it occurs in False Macchia, which is considered to be an in-between
vegetation type between Dohne Sourveld and true Fynbos. These vegetation types
consist of dry, low, shrubby, sclerophyllous (hard-leaved) vegetation. P.
ternatum grows in rocky terrain often in well drained sandy soil. The
distribution area receives an annual rainfall of about 200 to 400 mm near the
coast and as high as 600 mm in the mountains. The rainfall pattern is evenly
distributed throughout the year. The summer months become quite hot, winters are
mild, and light frost is experienced at elevated localities. According to Van
der Walt & Vorster (1981) “After a veld fire in Garcia's Pass in the 1976 an
extensive population of P. ternatum appeared on the burnt section,
suggesting that the species acts as a pioneer in an early stage of plant
Derivation of name and historical aspects|Pelargonium
ternatum belongs in the Geraniaceae family, a large cosmopolitan family of
approximately 11 genera and 800 species in subtropical and temperate regions of
the world. There are approximately 270 species of Pelargonium which
occur in S, E and NE Africa, Asia, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Madagascar,
Australia and New Zealand, most of which (219 species) occur in southern Africa.
The genus Pelargonium gets its name from the resemblance of the shape
of the fruit to the beak of a stork, pelargos in Greek, while the
specific name ternatum, in Latin, means 'in threes',
and refers to the three leaflets or lobes of the leaves.
EcologyThe seed is adapted to wind dispersal; it is light
in weight and has a feathered, spiral, tail-like attachment. When the seed lands
and there is sufficient water in the soil, the tail acts like a drill, twisting
the seed into the soil so that the seed can anchor itself in the ground and is
thus prevented from being blown away, or carried away on moving animals.