Smaller Crane's-bills

Dove's-foot Crane's-bill Round-leaved Crane's-bill Small-flowered Crane's-bill Hedgerow 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 group of mainly 'weedy', native species that are generally relatively small, annual species with less showy flowers than the clump-forming, perennial members of the family. Generally they can be recognised by their palmately-lobed or dissected leaves and their elongated fruiting capsules that resemble a crane's bill.

Where are they found?

These are plants of either disturbed ground in gardens or farmland, or of grassy places. Some are typical of species-rich, short turf plant communities, while others are found in ranker grasslands along roadsides and similar places.

Identification

As a group, these plants can be told by their flowers that are usually pink or white with five petals that are notched at the tip. The colour and petal shape will separate many species, while leaf shape will further distinguish some species. One or two are very similar in overall appearance but, when not in flower, can still be told apart by using a hand lens to study the hairs on the leaf stems (petioles).



Hedgerow Crane's-bill      Geranium pyrenaicum

Widespread in rough, grassy places along roadsides and hedgebanks. Flowers June to August. Unusual for this group in being a perennial and relatively tall species, with flowering stems branching and often reaching up to 60cm high, especially when growing in rank grass. Pinkish flowers have a distinctly purplish cast to them and have rather broad petals with a shallow by wide notch at the tip. Whole plant is softly downy. Rarely occurs with white flowers and such plants can be conspicuous when forming small colonies.

Hedgerow Crane's-bill Hedgerow Crane's-bill Hedgerow Crane's-bill Hedgerow Crane's-bill
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Dove's-foot Crane's-bill      Geranium molle

Common more or less throughout the region in a variety of habitats, but most often as a weed of cultivation and waste places or as a constituent of plant communities of short turf. Flowers April to September. A small species that can be hard to tell from Small-flowered Crane's-bill and the two often grow together. Flowers may be clear, bright pink, or a very pale, wishy washy pink, almost white. Petals broad and slightly overlapping, all ten stamens tipped with anthers; leaf petioles with a mix of short and long hairs.

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Small-flowered Crane's-bill      Geranium pusillum

Common more or less throughout the region in a variety of habitats, but most often as a weed of cultivation and waste places and less often as a constituent of plant communities of short turf. Flowers April to September. A small species that can be hard to tell from Dove's-foot Crane's-bill and the two often grow together. Flowers small, dull mauve in colour. Petals narrow and not overlapping, with five of the ten stamens not tipped with anthers; leaf petioles with downy short hairs only.

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Cut-leaved Crane's-bill      Geranium dissectum

Widespread and common in all but the driest soils and most often found as an arable weed or on road verges and disturbed, grassy places. Flowers May to August. Usually a well-branched plant to 30cm with a mass of deeply cut leaves. Flowers rich, bright pink, small for a crane's-bill, often not opening fully and half-hidden among leafy bracts. Flowers rarely white.

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Long-stalked Crane's-bill      Geranium columbinum

A scarce species found on old, undisturbed grassland sites, usually on chalky soils. Flowers June to July. A low, sprawling plant wth deeply dissected leaves. Flowers held on long stalks; stems and leaves clothed with stiff, whitish hairs. Petals more or less on-notched, bright pink.

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Round-leaved Crane's-bill      Geranium rotundifolium

Patchily distributed but can be locally common with the largest populations found in urban areas on dry, sunny sites, suggesting it is probably introduced and not native with us. Flowers June to July. A small species but often forming small colonies, which stand out as patches of downy, rounded leaves with contrasting red stems. Flowers small, rich pink with a white centre; petals barely notched.

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