Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Hér. ex Ait. — Overview

Common Stork's-bill learn more about names for this taxon

IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This adventive or introduced plant is a winter annual or biennial. It forms a rosette of basal leaves that spans ½–1½' across, and produces flowering stems up to 1' tall that have few or no leaves. These stems have a tendency to sprawl in the absence of supportive vegetation. They are usually reddish green or reddish brown, circular in circumference, and covered with long white hairs. The basal leaves are up to 8" long and 2½" across. They are odd-pinnate and have long petioles. Both the central stalk of these compound leaves and their petioles are reddish green or reddish brown and covered with long white hairs, like the stems. The hairy leaflets are up to 1" long and ½" across. They are pinnately cleft and have both shallow and deep lobes. Their margins are ciliate. The cauline leaves are similar to the basal leaves, but they are smaller in size and have shorter petioles. At the base of each cauline leaf, there is a pair of small stipules that are ovate in shape. Each flowering stem terminates in an umbel of about 4-8 flowers. Only 1 or 2 of the flowers in an umbel are in bloom at the same time. Each flower is up to ½" across, consisting of 5 pink or purplish pink petals, 5 hairy green sepals, 10 stamens (5 fertile, 5 infertile), and 5 united styles with purple stigmas in the center.  The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer for 1-2 months, although a few plants may bloom later. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower develops into a seed capsule in the form of a long narrow beak up to 1½" long. Upon maturity, this seed capsule splits apart into 5 narrow linear segments. Each of these segments has a single seed at the bottom. Each seed is rather linear in shape, somewhat broader at the top and tapering to a point at the bottom. As the attached segment begins to dry, it forms an irregular spiral that can drive the seed into the ground. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself, and often forms colonies.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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