Friday, May 10, 2013

Native Species Profile - Wild Geranium

Geraniums are one of the most cultivated flower species in the world.  Many people buy annual geraniums in bright shades of red, pink, and lavender for their gardens.  Most of these plants are cultivated varieties of wildflowers native to Eurasia.

There is a lovely native alternative for your garden.  While not as showy as many cultivated varieties, the Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) has the advantage of being a perennial plant that has evolved in Eastern North America.  This shade-loving plant can be found naturally in woodlands, along woodland edges, in savannahs, and in partially shaded meadows throughout parts 34 states and three Canadian Provinces.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

The Wild Geranium is low plant reaching a height of one to two feet.  It spreads by both seed and underground rhizome, but is not an aggressive plant.  With time it can form extensive colonies, but will not crowd out other native species. 

A Wild Geranium colony

Wild Geranium blooms from May into June in Mid-Michigan and bridge the gap between the spring ephemerals and summer blooming wildflowers.  Its flowers have five lavender petals are lined with nectar guides and attract a number of bee species to open blooms.  The flowers grow in clusters of two to five and rise up above the plants leaves.  Each flower is 1 to 1.5 inches across.  The flower stems and sepals are covered with fine hairs.

A small native bee gathering Wild Geranium pollen

The coarsely toothed leaves of the Wild Geranium are separated into five or six lobes, with each lobe separated by deep indentations.  Leaves are arranged a basal cluster.  There is also a single pair of leaves arranged oppositely on the stem of mature plants.

Note the deeply lobed basal and stem leaves

Basic Information

Wild Geranium 
Geranium maculatum

Height:  1-2’ tall

Habitat:  deciduous woodlands, meadows

Flower Color:  lavender

Bloom Time:  May – June

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I'm happy to come across your blog! I'm currently taking a botany class working toward certification in aromatherapy. One of my assignments is to locate a native plant to my state (I live in Michigan) and write a variety of specifics about it. I am interested in writing about wild geranium and came across your blog while researching it. I'm really hoping to find some growing wild, in person, I live in St. Clair. I look forward to receiving more of your blog posts, especially because you're somewhat local :)