Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)


The flowers are most commonly pink, but occasionally found in this attractive bluish lavender color. Also known as Cranesbill, because of the distinctive seedpods that look like the head of a long-billed bird. The “bill” is an ingenious spring-loaded mechanism that, when the pod dries, suddenly releases and flings the seeds into the air with amazing force. Wild Geranium is a popular garden perennial for shady yards; its close relatives, the florists’ geraniums (which have similar crane’s-bill seedpods), are placed in the genus Pelargonium by botanists. This plant was blooming in early May near the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

Stamens 10 (rarely 6), all with perfect anthers, the 5 longer with glands at their base (alternate with the petals). Styles smooth inside in fruit when they separate from the axis. Stems forking. Peduncles 1-3-flowered. (An old Greek name, from geranos, a crane; the long fruit-bearing beak thought to resemble the bill of that bird.)

G. maculatum L. (WILD G.) Erect, hairy; leaves about 5-parted, the wedge-shaped divisions lobed and cut at the end; sepals slender-pointed; pedicels and beak of fruit hairy but not glandular; petals entire, light purple, bearded on the claw. Open woods and fields, centr. Me. to Man., and southw. Apr.-July.

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