Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)

Plant Info
Also known as: Spotted Geranium, Spotted Cranesbill, Wild Cranesbill Alumroot
Family:Geraniaceae (Geranium)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods, woodland edges
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
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.


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.


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

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

i see them all the time in may

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

seen 29Apr2012 in Chester Woods park

Posted by: E Miller - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - Dellwood
on: 2013-06-04 23:08:37

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

Posted by: Fred - 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 - 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 - 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.

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager, Cass County
on: 2015-04-28 21:45:13

These grow very nicely up here in the Northern woodlands. I discovered by accident that they are a necessary food source for migrating Monarch butterflies. They are not invasive at all in my gardens. Should be in everyones garden, if just for the Monarchs.

Posted by: Jan - Oakdale
on: 2015-06-02 15:19:37

When first started gardening,there were so many that I dug up most of them. I have been trying to create a woodland garden and their pops of color are now appreciated,glad to know about the Monarchs.

Posted by: Denise - Oak Grove
on: 2017-05-24 15:29:15

We have these pretty flowers growing along our trails that go through our woods.

Posted by: Mike - Crosslake/Breezy Point
on: 2017-05-31 15:23:24

There are a good deal of these on the margins of the woods on our property, blooming right now on Memorial Day weekend.

Posted by: Pauline
on: 2017-06-07 12:13:33

Saw a lot of wild geraniums along the trails at Father Hennepin State Park Sunday, June 4th.

Posted by: Terry S - Minneapolis
on: 2017-10-28 15:06:41

Another good distinction between G. maculatum and Saniculas is that the Sanicula leaves, petioles, and stems are utterly hairless.

Posted by: Dave J Crawford - Ramsey County
on: 2018-06-01 23:28:08

Besides being a great shade garden plant, Wild Geranium does extremely well in moderate sun. In shade, it may be leggy and have few blooms. In sun, it forms mounded masses with lots of blossoms. It's also a super attractant for native bees, and a great addition to a pollinator garden. I've had at least six MN native bee species foraging on Wild Geranium in my yard this year.

Posted by: George DeStefano - Olmsted County
on: 2018-06-21 08:01:14

Lots of this on our place overlooking the north branch of the Root river.

Posted by: Sharon L Adams - NORTH BRANCH
on: 2018-06-22 20:23:38

I saw these in a local park (Riverwalk Park) off of Highway 61 in North Branch along the edges of the woods. There were only a couple of them.

Posted by: MaryL - Rosemount Dakota County
on: 2018-07-02 15:55:46

In my yard. I will make sure to weed around them. I've never seen any flowers on them, but... still a pretty leaf.

Posted by: kristine osbakken - Duluth
on: 2018-07-13 00:00:50

in my front yard. Came on their own.

Posted by: Laurie Ollhoff - Farmington
on: 2020-05-27 13:22:12

I have a lot of these in my yard. Then tend to plant themselves.

Posted by: Robert Hanson - Ramsey
on: 2020-05-30 14:44:03

Along a city part trail, deep in the shade of a patch of undisturbed trees and undergrowth.

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - So. Central Trenton Lake
on: 2020-05-30 15:51:34

Many blooming with woodland phlox

Posted by: Deane Johnson - Park Rapids
on: 2020-07-08 21:49:36

Prolific blooms this year along the Heartland Trail from Park Rapids to Dorset, especially in hardwood areas.

Posted by: Carol B. - Grand Marais
on: 2021-07-30 15:45:31

A friend gave me buckets of these flowers, and they transplant easily and grow well. Very pretty as natural border plants. We both live on Lake Superior.

Posted by: Theodore Gracyk - Clay County
on: 2023-06-13 18:08:23

It grows profusely in the shaded area of my backyard in Moorhead, MN.

Posted by: jeffrey C Niles - Coon rapids and wild river state park
on: 2023-07-26 12:35:37

I have these growing all over in my gardens at home. They seem pretty good at pushing creeping charlie back out of parts of some of them. All mine are purple, buy I saw white ones at wild river state park on one of my hikes.

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - Trenton Lake
on: 2024-05-20 08:03:42

Many- many now blooming along with phlox and lily of valley. Jack n pulpits, beautiful.

Posted by: Sandy Sedivy - Ottertail County
on: 2024-05-24 16:24:36

According to many tries using Picture This, we have these in our yard and gardens. We've been here 50 years, and they have never bloomed. Never. They crawl around in the roses, the fireweed, lilies, creeping charlie, under the ferns, etc. Are these really wild geraniums if they don't bloom? I pretty much leave them alone because they easily return.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-05-24 16:41:24

Sandy, I would suggest getting a second opinion on the ID. It would be highly unusual for wild geranium to never bloom in 50 years.

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