wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)
spotted crane's Bill
Geranium maculatum forma albiflorum Raf. ex House
Geranium maculatum var. albiflorum Raf.
Geranium maculatum var. album H.M. Myers
Geranium maculatum var. diphyllum Raf.
Geranium maculatum var. humile Raf.
Geranium maculatum var. macrophyllum Raf.
Geranium maculatum var. parviflora N. Coleman
Geranium maculatum var. plenum Lauman in L.H. Bailey
Geranium maculatum var. viride Raf.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of wild geranium
is Geranium maculatum L. The wild geranium is the showiest of the na-
tive geraniums with flowers at least 1" across. All of the others are far
less showy because they have smaller flowers. Reported in the Atlas of
Virginia Flora are two other species from genus Geranium that occur in
Facquier County: 1) Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium) has five
notched petals in shades of white to lavender and 2) Geranium columbinum
(long-stalked crane's-bill) has petals that are more purple in color.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial plant is 1-2½' tall, consisting of a loose clust-
er of basal leaves and flowering stems that develop directly from the creep-
ing rootstock. The flowering stems are covered with coarse white hairs and
more or less erect.
Leaves: On the lower portion of each flowering stem, there is a pair of op-
posite leaves. Both the basal leaves and the lower opposite leaves of the
flowering stems have a similar appearance. They are up to 5" long and
across, and palmately cleft with 5 deep lobes. Each of these lobes is wedge-
shaped at the base. The leaf margins have a few secondary lobes and coarse
teeth. Each leaf has long petioles with coarse white hairs, while its upper
surface has fine white hairs. The upper pairs of leaves on the flowering
stems are like the lower leaves, except they are smaller in size and usually
have only 3 primary lobes.
Flowers: The stems terminate in a corymb or floppy umbel of 1-5 flowers.
Each flower is about 11½" across, consisting of 5 rounded petals, 5 green
sepals, 10 stamens with pale yellow anthers, and a single pistil with 5
carpels. The petals are pale purplish pink and have fine lines running
across their surface that function as nectar guides. Both the flowering
stalk (peduncle) and pedicels have non-glandular hairs.
Fruit/Seeds: The pistil of the flower elongates into a beak-like fruit about
11½" long. As it matures, the 5 slender carpels of this fruit curl upward
and backward to fling the seeds from the mother plant. Each of these small
seeds has a reticulated surface.
Roots: The root system consists of a dark stout rootstock that produces
rhizomes. It is high in tannins. This plant often forms colonies.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Wild geranium propagates by seed
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include both floodplain and upland wood-
lands, savannas, meadows in woodlands, semi-shaded seeps, and glades.
Sometimes it invades hill prairies from adjacent wooded areas. It is a
typical species of mesic deciduous woodlands.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Wild geranium prefers light shade to
partial sunlight, moist to slightly dry conditions, and rich loamy soil
with abundant organic matter. This plant also tolerates full sunlight.
It is one of the easier woodland species to grow.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs dur-
ing the late spring to early summer and lasts about a month.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Wild geranium is a species primar-
ily of the eastern United States and Canada, extending as far south
as Georgia and west to Oklahoma and north to through the Dakotas
(absent from Nebraska) and into Manitoba. It is not a native of the
southwestern states, Plains states, Rocky Mountain states, or the far
western Pacific coast states of the United States or provinces of
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowers
attract bumblebees, mason bees, halictid bees, andrenid bees,
nomadine cuckoo bees, miner bees, and others. The flowers also
attract syrphid flies, March flies (Empidae), small butterflies, and
skippers. The caterpillars of some moth species feed on either the
foliage or flower buds, including Lacinipolia lorea (bridled arches),
Heliothis virescens (geranium budworm moth, tobacco budworm
moth), and Hemerocampa leucostigma (white-marked tussock
moth). Chipmunks eat the seeds, while deer occasionally eat the
Crooked Run Valley