Geum quellyon, commonly called Scarlet avens. Chilean avens, or Grecian rose, is a perennial herb of the Rosaceae family, native to the Central Region of Chile. It is commonly cultivated as a garden ornamental, and in that context is sometimes called Geum chiloense. There are about fifty species in the genus Geum, and they are all herbaceous perennials. They places of origin are widely scattered: in Europe, the Americas, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa. The summer-flowering chiloense hybrids come from a cold, wet climate in Chiloé, the second largest island in Chile. They need cool, moist soil. The two most popular chiloense types are the red ‘Mrs J Bradshaw’ (1909) and yellow ‘Lady Stratheden’ (1921) both come true from seed, something most geums cannot do.
Chilean Avens will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity extending to 24 inches tall with scarlet flowers with yellow anthers at the ends of the stems, with a spread of 24 inches. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 3 years.
The species name chiloense refers to the island of Chiloe off the coast of Chile. “Lady Stratheden” is named for Mary Elizabeth Scarlett (1796-1860), the 1st Baroness Stratheden (Lady Strathedon & Campbell) in Scotland. It’s frequently sold alongside the fiery semi-double ‘Mrs. Bradshaw’ as they are practically twins one red one yellow. Many named geums grow true to the parent only from cuttings, but ‘Mrs. Bradshaw’ & ‘Lady Strathendon’ can be very successfully seed-grown. “Lady Stratheden” has been awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sue Martin holds the National Collection of Geum, of which there are over a hundred different cultivars, hybrids, varieties and species. The garden, at Cranbook in Kent is open on selective days in May. The often confused Geum x heldreichii hybrids, linked to Theodor von Heldreich (1822-1902, are listed in Bailey and Hortus Third as stemming from G. coccinea, which originates in Europe and Asia Minor.
Geum quellyon, has been used in the traditional medicine of the Mapuche Amerindians of Chile to treat tooth neuralgia, gastric inflammation, prostatitis and to regulate menstruation, and for its diuretic and aphrodisiac properties. Although many benefits have been claimed for this plant, few scientific studies are available in the literature.