Pelargonium sidoides Geraniaceae

Other names

Kalwerbossie, Rabassam

Growth habit



Cultivated as annual

Native distribution

South Africa

Biocultural value

Cough syrup made from the roots is a traditional South African folk medicine that is also popular in Europe.


Robison Herb Garden

Source of plant

Baker's Acres


Pelargonium sidoides forms a rosette-like plant with crowded leaves. It is very similar to some forms of P. reniforme, but is easily distinguished by its blackish, rather than pink petals. The long-stalked leaves are mildly aromatic, heart-shaped and velvety. The distinctive dark, reddish-purple (almost black) flowers are present almost throughout the year, but occur mostly from late spring to summer with a peak in midsummer. The plant is an evergreen in cultivation, but it probably dies back in nature during droughts and in winter. The system of thickened underground root-like branches is a special adaptation which enables the plant to survive grass fires which occur almost annually over much of its range. It is used for a variety of folk-medicinal purposes resulting in the colloguial name 'Rabassam'.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

medicinal/pharmaceutical, tender perennial