Pelargonium, mosquito plant: the hoax.
Subject: Re: Mosquito plant (??)
From: Conrad Richter <71550.3411.CompuServe.COM>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 1994 12:19:19 GMT
>>> Okay, so this is a little weird. But I just got the latest catalog from Michigan Bulb Co., and they are hawking something they call the "Mosquito Plant", which "emits a pleasang fragrance that keeps mosquitos away". The photo shows a bushy looking thing, with roughly palmate leaves that are deeply serrated. The leaves look sorta like tomato plant leaves.
>>> Anyone have a clue what this plant might be?
>I believe the plant in question is called a citrosa, and it IS related to geraniums, being a crossbreed between a geranium and some sort of Chinese grass...I bought two, years ago, when I first saw them on the market. They were billed back then as a "lab grown plant" produced by extensive tinkering. It was claimed they could not reproduce. They
This story is a hoax -- which we state in our catalogue. The plant most definitely is not a cross of a scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and citronella grass (Cymbopogon spp.), nor is it the high-tech product of gene splicing as claimed. Attempts to reach the Dutch research group that supposedly bioengineered the plant failed to turn anybody up.
A lot of somewhat unscrupulous companies made a lot of money from this hoax. It was laughable just what lengths some of them went with their claims -- including the claim that the plant was patented.
The plant is most likely a natural hybrid of two scented geraniums, P. graveolens and P. citronellum. According to tests done at the University of Guelph the plant has some insect repelling properties, but the effect is not spectacular. The same tests, however, revealed that lemon thyme is quite effective at repelling insects including mosquitos.
We sell both plants. Citrosa is still a quite nice scented geranium even if it is a somewhat over robust grower for pots.