The geranium flower – or pelargonium – is a genus of about 200 species which consists of perennial, shrub and succulent plants that grow best in moist, but well-drained soil and direct sunlight. Geraniums – sometimes referred to as storksbills – are known to bloom abundantly in temperate areas around the world. Both members of the geraniaceae family, the true geranium – also called the “hardy geranium” – is often confused with pelargoniums, as they were once considered a part of the same genus. Due to extensive breeding, the geranium flower comes in many shapes and colors – from funnel to star shaped; fuchsia, purple, orange, red, pink and white. These flowers are also thought to fall into six groups: angel, hanging, royal, zonal, unique and shrubby-leaved.
The geranium flower is quite varied in its uses. These flowers have for many years been cultivated for their culinary, household and medicinal uses. Geraniums are frequently used to flavor everything from baked goods to sugar, and – when dried – are known for their calming effect when steeped to create sweet, soothing teas. As a curative, geraniums are known to treat a number of problems. These flowers are thought to have strong antibacterial properties, and are often used as astringents to treat skin conditions – especially when mixed with witch hazel. They are also said to work wonders for stomach ailments, headaches and arthritis. As a household product, the extracted oils are commonly used to repel insects, as an aromatherapy product, or as a skin-conditioning bath ingredient. In legends, the geranium flower is thought to be both an aphrodisiac and talisman for protection. It is thought that spraying yourself with its scent can attract love, while spraying it around your house can protect you from harm.
The geranium flower has a good deal of mixed symbolism associated with it. The geranium is considered a feminine element and is thought to embody health, love, fertility and protection. These flowers are also said to represent friendship, and when presented to a new or old friend, are thought to symbolize preference for that particular individual. On the more negative side, these flowers may also represent folly, foolishness or melancholy. However, despite the few negative connotations, geraniums can make great gifts as they are a fabulous token of harmonious affections.