Monday, February 16, 2009

Erodium cicutarium

That's right, Keith... Erodium cicutarium, of the Geraniaceae! The genus name of this cute little weed from Europe comes from the Greek word for heron (erodios), which is in reference to the long beak of the fruit that resembles a heron's bill. Redstem stork's bill, as it is known, is found throughout most of North America in fields, on roadsides, in deserts, and in waste areas. It is also used as a winter forage in the southwestern United States, where it is known as alfileria.


I have never seen this winter annual (biennial in the southern parts of its range) become horribly invasive, but it is invasive in some parts of its range. It was brought to the United States in the 1700s and spread rapidly west across the country as a result of the spiraled mature style that attached seeds to the fur and feathers of animals and birds. By the 1890s, Erodium cicutarium had already made it to the Pacific Northwest, where it dominated overgrazed pastures.

This photograph was taken in March 2006.

6 comments:

beetlesinthebush said...

Oh wow! A botany blog. From Missouri. Wonderful. (I found you through Allison's blog). I'm not only adding you to my blogroll, I'm creating a 'Botany' category.
regards--ted

Scott said...

Great, Ted... we look forward to having you visit and comment on our blog. We're not all from the great state of Missouri, though... our contributors are actually spread out across much of the US, which is even more fun than all being from Missouri!

Marianne said...

Scott - This species is one of the dominant species (or even occasionally the only species) on many of our sites that have had longer term (3+ years) of prairie dog occupation. So if you want to see it in its full dominant glory, check out some of our sites when you visit in the summer. The species is in bloom here in CO now and I saw it along the edge of a pasture in CA earlier this month.

Scott said...

As a scattered weed amongst turf grasses, as I see it around here, I kind of like this little plant. I don't think I want to ruin my feelings about it by seeing it growing as a monoculture!

Virginia said...

Thanks so much for posting this plant, Scott. As I was walking into my office this morning (Hot Springs, AR) I saw this bit of pink.... Spring beauties and Hedyotis are up, but no it's too pink... I wonder if it's that Erodium Scott posted. I brought is up, keyed it out and yes!! So thanks for already putting an image of those Apiaceae looking leaves in my brain with the proper name.

Scott said...

Isn't it nearly the coolest and cutest Geranium you've ever seen, even though it's not native to the US?