Larger Crane's-bills

Purple Crane's-bill Meadow Crane's-bill Druce's Crane's-bill Druce's Crane's-bill

What are they?

Though there are recognisable family traits, the crane's-bills are a rather large bunch and form the bulk of the family Geraniaceae. This page covers a number of larger-flowered, mostly non-native species that are generally clump-forming, perennial members of the family. As a group, they can be recognised by their palmately-lobed or deeply dissected leaves and their elongated fruiting capsules that resemble a crane's bill.

Where are they found?

Most of these species are grown as herbaceous perennials in gardens and are occasionally found as escapes or throw-outs on roadsides and waste ground, or spreading from original plantings in cemeteries and similar places.

Identification

Despite all being in the same genus, this is a remarkably varied group. The structure of the leaves will help to sort some of them out, while close details of the flowers will help with others. It is also worth making a note of the type of hairs on the flower and leaf stalks - especially whether the hairs are simple or glandular.



Rock Crane's-bill      Geranium macrorrhizum

Common and popular as a garden plant and occasionally found as a garden throw-out. Flowers April to June. An early flowering species with flowers bearing long, projecting stamens. Petals may be white or various shades of pink or lilac. Leaves form dense, low mounds and have a strong and distinctive, pungent smell.

Rock Crane's-bill Rock Crane's-bill Rock Crane's-bill Rock Crane's-bill
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Bloody Crane's-bill      Geranium sanguineum

Native in Britain and perhaps formerly so on chalky soils in the west of our region. Now far more likely to be found as a garden escape. Flowers July to August. A rather small species for this group and the foliage is perhaps more likely to be confused with some of the smaller crane's-bills, but the flowers are large and showy with the petals not notched. Flowers glowing cerise pink.

Bloody Crane's-bill Bloody Crane's-bill Bloody Crane's-bill
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Meadow Crane's-bill      Geranium pratense

A native species of grassy places, though today perhaps more likely to be found where introduced as it is often planted in natural planting schemes. Flowers June to September. A relatively tall, showy species with large, bright blue flowers and deeply cut leaves. Very occasionally found with white flowers.

Meadow Crane's-bill Meadow Crane's-bill Meadow Crane's-bill Meadow Crane's-bill
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Wood Crane's-bill      Geranium sylvaticum

Native in northern Britain but only recorded as a garden escape in East Anglia, where there have been no records since the 1960s. Flowers June to July. Flowers pinkish-violet, usually with a whitish centre; petals relatively narrow. Still occasionally grown in gardens and may occur again in the wider countryside.

Wood Crane's-bill Wood Crane's-bill Wood Crane's-bill Wood Crane's-bill
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French Crane's-bill      Geranium endresii

Recorded quite widely as a garden escape in grassy places but perhaps less common than records suggest due to confusion with the rather variable Druce's Crane's-bill. Flowers June to July. Flowers bright pink with veins more or less the same colour as the rest of the petal. True French Crane's-bills are rather delicate plants, without the 'blousy' vigour of garden hybrids. Commonly grown in gardens as the cultivar 'Wargrave Pink'.

French Crane's-bill French Crane's-bill French Crane's-bill French Crane's-bill
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Druce's Crane's-bill      Geranium x oxonianum

A very variable hybrid between French and Pencilled Crane's-bill and grown in a variety of named cultivars in gardens, from where it can escape or spread into nearby grassy places. Flowers June to July. Flowers pink to pale pink with the veins picked out in a slightly darker colour. Petals usually less spreading than Pencilled Crane's-bill, forming a slightly narrower, funnel-shaped flower. A quick-growing and showy hybrid and probably more likely to be found as a garden escape than either of its parents.

Druce's Crane's-bill Druce's Crane's-bill Druce's Crane's-bill Druce's Crane's-bill
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Pencilled Crane's-bill      Geranium versicolor

An uncommon plant of grassy roadsides and hedgebanks but perhaps much less common than formerly and largely replaced by Druce's Crane's-bill. Flowers June to July. Flowers pale pink to whitish with reddish veins Petals usually more spreading than Pencilled Crane's-bill, forming a slightly broader, trumpet-shaped flower.

Pencilled Crane's-bill Pencilled Crane's-bill Pencilled Crane's-bill Pencilled Crane's-bill
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Armenian Crane's-bill      Geranium psilostemon

Occasional as a garden plant and rarely recorded as a garden escape. Flowers June to July. Flowers vivid, magenta pink with a darker centre. Glandular hairs easily seen on the stems.

Armenian Crane's-bill Armenian Crane's-bill Armenian Crane's-bill Armenian Crane's-bill
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Glandular stem hairs


Purple Crane's-bill      Geranium x magnificum

A garden hybrid, frequent as a garden plant and occasionally recorded as a garden escape. Flowers June to July. Stems with a mix of both glandular and non-glandular hairs. Flowers large, bluish-purple.

Purple Crane's-bill Purple Crane's-bill Purple Crane's-bill Purple Crane's-bill
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Dusky Crane's-bill      Geranium phaeum

Introduced as a garden plant and quite frequently found where sef-seeded or as a garden throw-out, usually in shady places. Flowers May to June. Flowers slightly nodding and a distinctive, dark maroon colour. Leaves may be green or have dark blotches on them.

Dusky Crane's-bill Dusky Crane's-bill Dusky Crane's-bill Dusky Crane's-bill
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