Geraniaceae: Geranium Family — Erodium (Filaree)

Members of the Geranium family have regular flowers, with 5 sepals and petals, and ten stamens.  Their leaves are either lobed or compound.  The family gets its name from the Greek geranos meaning crane.  They are often known as crane’s bills, because of the long “beaks” of the fruits.  The two most common members of this family Geranium family are Erodium and Geranium, most of which are imports from Eurasia.  Cultivated members are usually Pelargonium.

Long-beaked Filaree – Erodium botrys

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

10–90 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Southern Europe

Habitat:

Dry, open or disturbed sites

Notes:

The various Erodium species are all pink-flowered and have similar shaped fruits, leading to one of their common names of Crane’s Bill or Heron’s Bill.  This species is deeper pink than the others, and the flower is more cup shaped, with broader petals and dark-pink striping.  It is very similar to Foothill Filaree (Erodium brachycarpum, see below).  A distinctive feature is that one of the five sepals always has a dark red stripe on its margins.  The fruits of this species are also noticeably longer (5–12 cm) than in the other Erodiums.  Leaves are lobed or dissected, with the reddish veins clearly visible in the younger leaves, which can form a dense rosette.

Foothill Filaree – Erodium brachycarpum

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

Southern Europe

Habitat:

Grassy slopes

Notes:

This is very similar to Long-beaked Filaree (Erodium botrys, see above), and is easily mistaken for it.  Close examination of the pedicel will reveal one of the two differences.  The hairs are shorter and straighter, and many are clearly glandular.  The hairs on the stem of Long-beaked Filaree are longer, curved upwards, and not glandular.  The picture in the middle shows the Foothill Filaree, the one on the right shows the Long-beaked Filaree for comparison of hairs.  Another difference (which requires good magnification and some practice to see) is found in the base of the fruits, where this species has rounded pits, subtended by 1–2 hairy ridges.

Red-stemmed Filaree – Erodium cicutarium

Blooms:

Feb–Sept

Plant Height:

10–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia

Invasive?

Yes – limited

Habitat:

Open, disturbed sites, grassland

Notes:

This is even more common that Long-beaked Filaree (Erodium botrys, see above), though a little less conspicuous because of its smaller size.  Despite being an invasive weed, it has pretty pink flowers with ovate, clearly separated pink petals.  Stems are slender and generally reddish, which by itself allows the species to be differentiated from White-stemmed Filaree (Erodium moschatum, see below).  White-stemmed flowers are similar, but have fatter, greenish-white stems.  Fruits are similar to those of Long-beaked Filaree, but smaller (4–7 cm).  Leaves are pinnate, with deeply lobed or divided segments.

White-stemmed Filaree – Erodium moschatum

Blooms:

Feb–Sept

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Europe

Habitat:

Open, disturbed sites, often in heavy or damp soils

Notes:

The flowers of this species are very similar to Red-stemmed Filaree (Erodium cicutarium, see above).  However, it has fatter, greenish-white stems, which  distinguishes it from the slender reddish stems of Red-stemmed Filaree.  The peduncles also typically have a larger number of flowers.  Fruits are very similar though a little smaller (4–6 cm).  Leaves are are lobed or shallowly divided.