Wild Geranium

Nancy Barrett

Toronto, Canada

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Artist's Description

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Notes: Geraniums are recognized by their palmately-lobed leaves and distinctive capsules. The species is sometimes called the “Cranesbill”, from the Greek geranos meaning “crane”, because of the capsule which resembles a crane’s bill.

Distinguishing Features – Leaves: 10 – 12.5 cm wide; grayish-green, cut into deeply toothed lobes, basal leaves long-stalked. Flowers: lavender, 2.5 – 3.8 cm wide, in loose clusters of 2 to 5 at the ends of branches; 5 sepals, pointed; 5 petals, rounded, separate; 10 stamens;single pistil. Fruit: an elongated, beaked capsule, splitting up from the base and producing 5 upward-curving strips united at the base.

Habitat: Most common in Manitoba and Ontario; also Pennsylvania to Southern Maine; in woods, thickets, and meadows; also rocky slopes, open areas and shady roadsides.

The tannic acid concentration in Wild Geranium is sufficiently high for it to substitute for alum in tanning of hides, which led to another common name for this versatile plant: Alum Root.

The acidic astringency of Wild Geranium was effective in the treatment of infections, too, so much so that it was a part of the herbal pharmacopeias of both Canada and the United States, along with another flowering herb called by the same common name in some locales, American Alumroot.

Photographed at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario

Nikon D90 with 105 mm VR Micro-Nikkor lens

Artwork Comments

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