Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)

Plant Info
Also known as: Spotted Geranium, Spotted Cranesbill, Wild Cranebill Alumroot
Genus:Geranium
Family:Geraniaceae (Geranium)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods, woodland edges
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] Small clusters of a few flowers each branching off the top of the plant. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inches across, 5 rounded pink to lavender (rarely white) petals and 10 stamens with yellow tips that turn brown with age. The petals are streaked with darker lines along the length, and often fade to white at the base. The 5 green sepals behind the flower are about half as long as the petals, and hairy.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Basal leaves are long stalked, 3 to 6 inches across and deeply divided into 3 to 7 lobes, which may be further divided with coarse, mostly rounded teeth. A pair of smaller, short-stalked leaves sits at the base of a flower cluster. Leaves and stems are both hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an erect capsule-like structure to 1½ inches long with the persistent sepals around the base. In the center is a slender column divided into five sections, each attached at its base to an oval shaped carpel containing a single seed.

[photo of emptied carpels] At maturity, the sections split apart from the base along the seams, causing the dried carpels to spring up and eject the seeds away from the mother plant.

Notes:

Wild Geranium makes a wonderful shade garden plant. It is easily distinguished from the other 3 Geranium species in Minnesota by its comparatively large flowers, an inch or more in diameter, where the others are under ½ inch. When not flowering, Wild Geranium leaves may be mistaken for Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) or possibly one of the Black Snakeroots (Sanicula spp.). The Black Snakeroots have alternate, palmately compound stem leaves where Wild Geranium stem leaves are opposite and palmately lobed. Canada Anemone leaves are more sharply toothed/pointed, with a single whorl of 3 stalkless, mostly 3-lobed leaves on the upper stem at the base of the flower stalk, as well as pair of stalkless leaves at the base of secondary flower stalks.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Chisago and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Lynn in Minneapolis
on: 2010-05-20 18:55:54

It is easy to see this plant (blooming now) at the Minnehaha Dog Park. One specific place is the clearing under the power lines near the bottom of the old RR tie stairs. This plant is growing in both very sunny and quite shady locations.

Posted by: Linda in Sunrise Township
on: 2010-06-02 09:47:41

My Son and I went for a walk on old government road and saw these flowers in the ditch.

Posted by: Alison in Preston, Fillmore County
on: 2010-07-12 14:56:38

Wild geranium was spotted during my turkey hunting in mid-May in the Fillmore County farm land in Preston.

Posted by: lylly in isle, mn
on: 2010-10-02 16:25:46

i see them all the time in may

Posted by: Pat in Meeker co
on: 2011-01-31 20:39:47

Found Growing in old woods with some sun. A Spectacular wildflower. This belongs in everyone's garden.

Posted by: Joyce in hickory woods near Hollandale, MN
on: 2011-06-01 10:01:40

DH always called all these lovely lavender colored wildflowers, 'laurel' ~~but actually learned from your site that they're are actually 2 different types ~the other is the virginia or eastern waterleaf. We enjoy them every spring behind our home. So now I know what they're REALLY called~~lol

Posted by: Kate in Olmsted Cnty
on: 2012-05-06 14:05:58

seen 29Apr2012 in Chester Woods park

Posted by: E Miller in St Paul
on: 2012-05-12 21:04:44

How do you get rid of it? My neighbor has let his back yard become completely overrun by this plant. The seeds from his yard are trying to make mine a nursery. This seems to be a very hardy plant

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-05-13 18:39:41

E Miller: It is surprising to me that wild geranium would spread like this. Perhaps it is not wild geranium in your neighbor's yard, but a different species?

Posted by: B. Rueckert in Wobegon trail (Between St. Joseph and Avon, MN
on: 2012-06-18 18:37:42

I have spotted the wild geranium in a few isolated areas near the wooded areas of the wobegon trail, while biking. It appears that they may be near the end of their blooming period, as it is mid June now.

Posted by: LS in Scott County
on: 2013-05-11 12:52:09

These are pretty in the woods, but VERY INVASIVE if the seeds start randomly growing in your landscape!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-05-11 20:58:34

LS, I have found no information anywhere that indicates Geranium maculatum has any invasive tendencies. I have some growing in my own yard and it has not spread hardly at all in 4 years. Regardless, when a species finds suitable habitat without much competition it is likely to perform better than in less ideal conditions. But I still tend to think you have something other than Geranium in your yard that is giving you grief.

Posted by: Brian in St. Peter
on: 2013-06-03 22:15:42

These are blooming beautifully at Vale Wildlife Management Area in Sibley County right now.

Posted by: Barbara in Dellwood
on: 2013-06-04 23:08:37

They are blooming now in the woods next to my house. Very pretty.

Posted by: Fred in Savage
on: 2013-06-14 19:34:08

These wild geranium plants are everywhere in the woods on my lot in Savage. They are pretty and thanks for this site because I found out what they are called. They like shady to partly shady spots. There are hundreds if not thousands of the plants growing on my 1 acre lot and my neighbor's lot. Invasive might be a good word to use, but if not, they do spread fast. More of them each year. They tend to stay out of my lawn, so I don't worry about them because they are a very pretty light purple bloom against all green background. And when I see 100 of them blooming in a clump they are striking.

Posted by: Melody in Brook Park
on: 2014-05-28 18:06:39

I have these in my yard and woods up here in Kanabec County.

Posted by: John in South Savage, MN
on: 2014-05-31 14:40:19

I live in an oak wooded area in Savage, MN. These are all over the edges of the wood line. I have even transplanted some of them to form a bed along a brick paver walk. They are very hardy and come back each year spreading about 25% bigger area each year. I've tried to use all native plants in the beds along my lawn, they just seem to do better than any bought perennial other than Hostas.

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