This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Annual or perennial herbs, or rarely low shrubs, with opposite or rarely alternate leaves, usually stipulate, divided, and compound. Flowers regular in the chief European genera. Sepals 5. Petals usually 5, twisted in the bud. Stamens 5 or 10, often united at the base. Ovary 3-5 celled, with 1 or more seed in each, all attached to the central axis. Styles 5. About 750 species.
Herbs with forked stems, often swollen at the nodes, opposite, palmately divided leaves and purplish or pink flowers, solitary or two together, on axillary peduncles. Stamens 10, of which 5 are shorter. Ovary 5-lobed, terminating in a short beak, with 5 long stigmas at the top. Capsule separating into 5 one-seeded carpels, which curl upwards, and with a long elastic awn, detached from the beak.
A genus of about 150 species spread over the northern hemisphere, with a few-species in the southern (extra tropical).
Rootstock oblique or horizontal, thick, and covered with the tufts of withered leaves. Stem about a foot high, erect, branching dichotomously. Leaves shiny, palmately 7-fid, cut and serrated. Flower-stalks 2-flowered; pedicels erect after flowering. Petals somewhat spathulate, bright reddish purple. Stamens curved downwards. Capsule glabrous, wrinkled transversely. A strongly scented plant.
Stony places, especially in river beds in the lower Alps up to 5000 feet; very local. June, July.
Carpathians, Eastern Alps, Maritime Alps, N. Italy, Balkan Provinces, Greece.
This handsome plant should be cultivated in English rock-gardens. Place it between stones in a sunny aspect, give it plenty of water at first, and after getting well established it must not be allowed to get rampant.
Slightly pubescent, and somewhat glandular in the upper portion. Stem erect, 1 to 2 feet high, robust. Radical leaves on long stalks, palmately and deeply divided with 5 or 7 pointed lobes, more or less cut and serrated. Stem-leaves few, on much shorter stalks. Upper part of stem repeatedly forked, forming a rather dense panicle of handsome purplish flowers. Peduncles short, each with 2 flowers, on short pedicels, remaining erect when the fruit is ripe. Sepals sharply mucronate. Petals obovate, slightly notched, nearly twice the length of the calyx.
Meadows and bushy places in the mountains up to 7000 feet, and rarely in the south extending to 8000 feet (Col du Galibier). Before the meadows are mown in June or July this geranium often covers large areas and gives quite a purple haze to the landscape. To a certain extent it takes the place of our G. pratense, which is rare in Switzerland.
In Britain sylvaticum is more confined to some of the woods in the west and north, and is not often seen in meadows.
Throughout Europe and Russian Asia, extending to the Arctic regions. In Norway to above the birch limit.
Rootstock thick, knotted, oblique or horizontal. Stems 1-2 feet high, erect, simple or branched, covered like the whole plant with woolly hairs. Leaves roundish cordate in outline, palmately 5-7 lobed, lower leaves stalked, upper sessile; lobes 3-cleft, coarsely cut and serrated. Flowers dark purple, in loose racemose cymes; flower-stalk 2-flowered, pedicel erect or horizontal after flowering. Petals patent during flowering, roundish ovate, shortly apiculate. Carpels with 3 or 4 wrinkles in the upper part; beak finely downy, not glandular.
Thickets, ravines, and meadows of the lower Alps up to 5300 feet; local. May, July.
Carpathians, Eastern, Central, and Western Alps, Jura, Central Europe; from Scotland to Bulgaria and Thrace.
In Switzerland rather rare; but a pale violet variety seems frequent in several places at about 5000 feet, as at the Col de la Forclaz between Chamonix and Martigny.
Closely allied to G. striatum L., about 1 1/2 feet high, covered with a fine pubescence. Stems less downy and strongly inflated at the nodes. Leaves 3-5 lobed, lobes ovate-acuminate, serrate. Petals pale violet or pink, obcordate. Peduncles 2-flowered. Sepals terminating in a long point, pubescent. Carpels finely downy.
Woods and by streams in the mountains; rare. June to August.
Alps, rare in Switzerland (Jura, Valais), Cevennes, Pyrenees, Central France, Corsica, Spain, Italy, Dalmatia, Montenegro. Occasionally in England, but probably not native.