Cranesbill Geraniums

cranesbill geranium
Cranesbill geraniums

Cranesbill geraniums bask in the late afternoon sun.

Blooming right now, the cranesbill geraniums have naturalized here and there around both the front and back yards over the years. They are hardy and spread into mounds while new plants will show up randomly wherever seeds land, but it’s one plant I’d never call invasive. It’s very polite, and transplants easily. They grow in all the woods I’ve walked around here and it’s interesting to see how the color varies in hue and intensity and petal cover—some are white in the center and pink on the edges—sometimes in clumps growing right next to each other. They bloom for about three weeks and bees are all over the flowers. The leaves stay green through the summer then turn orange and red in autumn.

Cranesbill geranium, Geranium maculatum, is a perennial native wild plant, very hardy and happy in most conditions. The name “cranesbill” is derived from the shape of the seeds, which grow in clusters like the buds you see on the left, a small oblong shape but with a long pointed protuberance that is reminiscent of the beak of a crane. They are actually a geranium, unlike the annual plant we call a geranium though actually a pelargonium. Not that I have anything against not-geranium-pelargoniums, I have several that I’ve overwintered for years and take cuttings to make new ones each year.

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