Geum vernum (Raf.) Torr. & A. Gray

Spring Avens


CC = 3
CW = 3
MOC = 66

© DETenaglia

Family - Rosaceae

Habit - Perennial forb.

Stems - Spreading to ascending, to 60 cm, multiple from base, glabrous or the lower portion moderately to densely pubescent with short, soft, spreading to ascending hairs, becoming sparser toward the tip.

Geum_vernum_stem.jpg Stem.

© DETenaglia

Leaves - Basal and alternate. Basal leaves simple and long-petiolate, and also pinnately compound with 3-9 primary leaflets and shorter-petiolate. Stem leaves progressively less divided upward, short-petiolate to sessile, the uppermost often merely simple and 3-lobed. Stipules 6-18 mm long, lanceolate to broadly ovate or kidney-shaped, usually with few to several jagged lobes. Primary leaflets 0.5-6.5 cm long, broadly ovate or nearly circular to rhombic or lanceolate-elliptic, often shallowly to deeply 3-or more-lobed, the surfaces sparsely to moderately hairy.

Geum_vernum_basals.jpg Basal leaves.

© SRTurner

Geum_vernum_leaves1.jpg Stem and leaves.

© SRTurner

Geum_vernum_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Geum_vernum_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Geum_vernum_stipule.jpg Leaf stipule.

© DETenaglia

Geum_vernum_leaves.jpg Upper and lower stem leaves.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Loose cymes terminating stems, often drooping, curled, or hooked toward the tips. Flower stalks glabrous or sparsely and inconspicuously pubescent with short soft hairs.

Geum_vernum_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Receptacle glabrous. Hypanthium campanulate, 2-3 mm broad, 1.5 mm long, glabrous. Sepals 2-3 mm long, triangular, not alternating with bractlets. Petals 1-2 mm long, slightly shorter than the sepals, yellow. Apical segment of style 0.7-1.0 mm long, glabrous. Stamens numerous.

Geum_vernum_sepals.jpg Sepals.

© DETenaglia

Geum_vernum_flower.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Cluster of fruits 8-14 mm in diameter, raised above the calyx on a noticeable stalk 1-4 mm long. Achenes with the main body 2-3 mm long, flattened, somewhat thickened along the angles, minutely and inconspicuously hairy, the persistent stylar beak 1.5-3.0 mm long, glabrous.

Geum_vernum_fruits.jpg Fruits.

The styles with joints near their ends are characteristic of plants in the Geum genus. The stalked fruit cluster is peculiar to this species.

© SRTurner

Geum_vernum_fruits2.jpg Fruits.

Focus stacked image courtesy of Rick Gray.

© RGray

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Bottomland and mesic forests, streambanks, bases of bluffs, along trails and old roads, disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Distantly, species of Agrimonia.

Other info. - This is a common little plant, often overlooked because the flowers are quite small. It is found across most of Missouri, but is uncommon or absent in the northwestern corner of the state and the Mississippi Lowlands division. Its range extends mostly eastward and northward from Missouri, into New England and parts of Canada. The plant is easily recognized by its small yellow flowers and toothed-compound leaves. The fruit clusters are borne on short stalks, and the fruits have a kink in the persistent style which is highly characteristic of Geum.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 5-29-00, and at Danville Conservation Area, Montgomery County, MO., 4-17-04 (DETenaglia); also at St. Francois State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 5-4-2014, Canaan Conservation Area, Gasconade County, MO, 5-6-2014, and Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles County, MO, 4-26-2008 (SRTurner). Focus stacked image courtesy of Rick Gray.