Wild Flower of the Week
There are several types of hardy geranium native to Scotland. All of them have attractive flowers which provide nectar for many insects. They all grow easily in dry situations, so are good for walls or between paving in gardens. Some of them compete well with grass in a wildflower meadow. The seed pods look like birds’ bills, hence the common name, cranesbill.
Meadow Cranesbill is the wild blue geranium, Geranium pratense, which grows tallest at up to three feet. The similar, but smaller and more purple, G. sylvaticum is as the name suggests, found around woods. One of the most attractive wild flowers of sandy coastal grassland is the Bloody Cranesbill, G. sanguineum. The small and sprawling Herb Robert, G. robertianum is happy in shade. In very dry conditions the ferny leaves will turn red. It is usually an annual but does self-seed readily. Another annual, Dove’s foot Cranesbill, G. molle, is named for the leaf’s resemblance to the feathered feet of doves. The little Cut Leaved Cranesbill, G. dissectum is a long-established weed of disturbed ground.
Several garden escape species and hybrids have become established in the wild. At least 14 have been recorded in the Lothians alone.