Geranium traversii


Geranium: From the Greek geranos 'crane', the fruit of the plant resembling the head and beak of this bird, hence the common name cranesbill.
traversii: Named after William Thomas Locke Travers (1819-1903) who was an Irish lawyer, magistrate, politician, explorer, naturalist, photographer. He lived in New Zealand from 1849 and was a fellow of the Linnean Society.

Common Name(s)

Chatham Island geranium

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - IE, RR
2009 - IE


Geranium traversii Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Geranium traversii var. elegans Cockayne


Endemic. Chatham Islands group. Known from all the main islands, islets and rock stacks except The Forty Fours, Sisters, Pyramid and Western Reef.


Coastal cliffs, consolidated or mobile sand dunes, steep peat-filled crevices, limestone cliffs and rocks, rock crevices and erosion hollows.


Leafy, silvery grey to greyish-green, rosette-forming perennial herb forming patches up to 0.8 × 0.6 m. Caulorrhiza stout, deeply descending, woody at base, usually branched near ground level, often stoloniferous, up to 30 mm diameter, densely covered in persistent, frayed, petiole and stipule remnants. Stem and leaves usually densely covered in silvery hairs. Basal leaves on slender petioles up to 220 mm long. Stipules broad-ovate, cuspidate. Lamina 15-100 mm diameter, broad-reniform, orbicular, mostly lobed to ½ way but sometimes deeper; lobes 5-7(-8), cuneate, often toothed or lobed further. Cauline leaves similar but smaller. Flowers solitary 20-25(-30) mm diameter; peduncles up to 100 mm long, retrorsely hairy; bracteoles narrow-lanceolate, subacuminate. Sepals 7-11 × 2-4 mm, narrow-ovate to broad-ovate, densely covered with grey hairs, cuspidate. Petals 12(-16) × 10(-14) mm, broad-obovate or obovate-oblong, shortly clawed, pink or white, rarely pale purple, in all usually with up to 5 more darkly pigmented, longitudinal veins. Stamens < or > pistil. Mericarps silky hairy; beak 8-24 mm long. Seed 2.2-2.8 mm long, surface dull, dark brown, red-brown, dark purple-brown to black-brown, elliptic-oblong, not compressed, cells of primary reticulum, 4-6-sided, broadly oblong to isodiametric (0.04-0.15 mm long)

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from all other indigenous and naturalised New Zealand geraniums by the stout rootstock and stems; by the leaves densely clad in more or less silvery hairs; and by the inflorescences bearing only sparse eglandular (never glandular) hairs with mainly pink or white (rarely pale purple) flowers with corolllas up to 25 mm diameter.


July-June (peaking in summer)

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White



Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed. Very amenable to cultivation thriving in most situations. Does not like excessive moisture and does best in full sun. In the wild it has a wide range of flower colours (white through pink to almost purple) and the leaves are occasional purple-coloured. Further selections may be rewarding. It is one of the few Chatham Islands endemics that is easily grown almost anywhere in New Zealand.


Not threatened. However, it has probably declined from large parts of its former range on Chatham and Pitt Islands. In some sites it may be threatened by invasive weeds, especially marram grass (Ammophila arenaria). It remains abundant and secure on all the outer vegetated islands except the Sisters, Forty Fours, Pyramid and Western Reef.

Chromosome No.

2n = 54, 54-56

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seed dispersed by wind, ballistic projection and possibly attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).




Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2008. Description adapted from Aedo et al. (2005) supplemented with observations based on fresh and cultivated specimens.

References and further reading

Aedo, C., C. Navarro, and M. L. Alarcón.2005a. Taxonomic revision of Geranium sections Andina and Chilensia (Geraniaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 149: 1-68.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 3 Nov 2014