Geraniaceae: Geranium Family — Geranium

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.

Alderney Crane’s-bill – Geranium core-core

Blooms:

Feb–Sept

Plant Height:

30–50 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

South America

Habitat:

Grassy places

Notes:

This plant is ascending to erect; its flowers have pink petals and visible veins.  Anthers are creamy-white with purple stripes.  Sepals have prominent, glabrous awns.  Leaves are roundish and deeply dissected, but with broader lobes than Cut-leaved Geranium (Geranium dissectum, see below).  Stems have short, backward-facing hairs.  Fruits curl up from their base.  [Formerly misidentified as New Zealand Geranium (Geranium retrorsum), an Australian native.]

Cut-leaved Geranium – Geranium dissectum

Blooms:

Mar–July

Plant Height:

30–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia, North Africa

Invasive?

Yes – limited

Habitat:

Open, disturbed sites

Notes:

Common and somewhat invasive, this has flowers of a particularly vivid pink. The petals are broad and shallowly notched. The leaves are deeply dissected.  The sepal tips have a bristly awn.

Dove’s Foot Geranium – Geranium molle

Blooms:

Feb–Aug

Plant Height:

10–45 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia, North Africa

Habitat:

Open to shaded sites, disturbed ground

Notes:

Another common geranium with distinctive, deeply notched petals which are more clearly separated and a paler pink than those of Cut-leaved Geranium (Geranium dissectum, see above).  Sepals may be mucronate (i.e. with a short, pointed tip), but lack the awn found in Cut-leaved Geranium.  Leaves are variable, often more or less round and deeply dissected or palmately lobed.  As with many flowers, white forms are occasionally found.

Robert Geranium / Herb Robert – Geranium robertianum

Blooms:

Apr–Sept

Plant Height:

10–50 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia, North Africa

Habitat:

Open to shaded sites

Notes:

An erect, many-stemmed plant; extremely common in its native Europe but uncommon in Monterey County.  The petals are broad and unnotched but clearly separated, pink in color with white or occasionally darker pink stripes.  Leaves are somewhat fern-like and stems are often reddish.

Round-leaved Geranium – Geranium rotundifolium

Blooms:

May

Plant Height:

10–40 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Eurasia, North Africa

Habitat:

Open, disturbed sites

Notes:

This common geranium has petals that are pale rose-purple, fading to white in the center with a slight indentation at the tip.  Sepals are soft-hairy and have short, bristly awns.  Leaves are variable, more or less round with shallow, rounded lobes, sometimes more angular with pointed lobes.  Easily confused with the native Bicknell’s Geranium (Geranium bicknellii, not shown), which has similar flowers but more deeply dissected leaves and is only found above 600 m.