Geranium maculatum L.

Wild Geranium


CC = 5
CW = 3
MOC = 72

© DETenaglia

Family - Geraniaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with stout rhizomes.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 70 cm long, often multiple from base, moderately pubescent with mostly downward-pointing nonglandular hairs.

Geranium_maculatum_stem.jpg Stem, node, stipules.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Basal and 1 or few opposite pairs on the stems, the basal ones long-petiolate, the petioles to 30 cm, those of the stems short-petiolate. Leaf blades 4-15 cm long, wider than long, depressed-ovate to bean-shaped in outline, palmately 5-lobed, the lobes more or less obovate, mostly sharply pointed at the tip, the margins more shallowly lobed and sharply and coarsely toothed, the surfaces moderately pubescent with nonglandular hairs, those of the upper surface sometimes becoming sparse with age.

Geranium_maculatum_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Geranium_maculatum_leaves.jpg Pressed leaves.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Appearing as axillary or less commonly terminal, long-stalked, paired, umbels of 2-9 flowers. Each division subtended by linear bracts to 7 mm long. Individual flower stalks 10-30 mm long, 1.5-4.5 times as long as the sepals, pubescent with spreading to downward-pointing nonglandular hairs.

Geranium_maculatum_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Geranium_maculatum_bracts.jpg Bracts.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Sepals 6-9 mm long, not becoming enlarged at fruiting, elliptic-ovate, tapered to a short awnlike extension 1.5-3.0 mm long at the tip, pubescent with a mixture of spreading to somewhat downward-pointing shorter nonglandular and longer glandular hairs. Petals 12-23 mm long, free, broadly obovate, rounded to very slightly notched at the tip, pink or rarely white, glabrous. Stamens 10, 5 with glandular bases. Filaments broad and ciliate-margined at base, to 6 mm long, white. Anthers 1.5 mm broad, 3 mm long, light brown. Carpels 5. Styles to 2 mm long, connate. Stigma 5-lobed.

Geranium_maculatum_sepals.jpg Sepals.

© SRTurner

Geranium_maculatum_flower.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Geranium_maculatum_flower2.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Erect, 5-lobed schizocarps with a long stylar column, the mericarps 25-40 mm long at maturity, the seed-containing basal portion 3.5-4.0 mm long, the lateral surfaces smooth, moderately to densely pubescent with spreading nonglandular hairs 0.2-0.6 mm long, the stylar beak with spreading to loosely ascending nonglandular hairs, the slender extension between the columnar portion and the stigmas 5-8 mm long. Seeds 2.5-3.0 mm long, the surface with a fine network of ridges and pits.

Geranium_maculatum_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Geranium_maculatum_fruits2.jpg Fruits after dehiscence.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Bottomland and mesic forests, streambanks, shaded ledges of bluffs, ravines.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This common woodland wildflower occurs across Missouri, and ranges throughout the eastern half of the continental U.S. and into Canada. It is easily recognized by the distinctive shapes of the palmately lobed leaves and the delicately shaded flowers.

The appearance of the fruits is characteristic of the plants in this genus, and disperse their seeds by an interesting dehiscence mechanism. As the fruits dry, the long mericarp beak develops tension due to unequal stress on the two faces of the beak. Eventually, the basal, seed-containing portion breaks free and violently curls upward, flinging the seed some distance away. An image of the structure which remains is shown above.

Geranium maculatum is an attractive species often used in native wildflower gardens. The plant is rich in tannins and has been used in herbal medicine as an astringent and hemostatic. Native Americans used the plant to treat a variety of ailments including toothaches, burns, hemorrhoids, sore throats, and diarrhea.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 4-28-00, and at Charrette Creek, MO., 4-17-04 (DETenaglia); also at Young Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 5-2-2013, Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 4-24-2017, and Busch Greenway / Duckett Creek, St. Charles County, MO, 6-4-2018 (SRTurner).