A humble plant that is easily overlooked, is the Rose Geranium, or Pelargonium Graveolens. It reminds one of bedraggled, stringy plants, planted in rusted tins, sitting on the stoep of some people, as tired of life as their plants. Yet, this indigenous plant is very special indeed!
It is not a true geranium, but pelargonium, that originates from South-Africa. It has green-grey, hairy leaves and small pink or purple or spotted flowers. It thrives in pots or garden beds. It grows in any soil and needs at least 6 hours of sunlight, daily. It does not like wet feet and needs to be brought inside in winter, as it is sensitive to frost. It can be grown from cuttings.
This plant is very rich in essential oils, fragrant like roses. It is also called ” poor man’s rose” and is extensively used in the perfume industry to stretch expensive Rose oil. It is best planted on a narrow walkway, or somewhere where the leaves will regularly be bruised by people brushing against it, in order to release the amazing fragrance. It is often used in soaps and shampoos and in aromatherapy.
Its culinary uses include using it in jams, ice-tea, salads and juice because of the gorgeous fragrance. A buttered cake tin can be lined with rose geranium leaves, before the batter is poured in. The fragrance are then “baked in” and the leaves removed when the cake is removed from the pan.
Medicinally this humble plant has many uses. The leaves can be infused in sesame oil. A few drops, dropped directly into the nostril, can stop chronic nose bleeds. The leaves can be steeped in boiling water, like a tea, and then use as a face rinse. It is a powerful astringent and soothes the skin. It helps with wound healing and decrease swelling. It fights infections and wounds can be washed with it.
It helps with nerve pain, especially shingles. it also helps with diarrhoea. When drank as a tea, Rose geranium acts as a diuretic, therefor it is helpful in removing toxins from the body.
Lastly it helps with depression. The beautiful fragrance soothes and calms. It relieves anxiety and a sense of emotional well being is achieved.
As part of the Good Life, I think that every household should have at least one Rose Geranium plant. I pick a leaf throughout the day, and just roll it between my fingers and appreciate the amazing scented oils.