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Geranium pratense L. var. erianthum
For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.
The leaves are edible, raw or cooked, and the flowers are edible raw, but not considered good to taste. Woolly geranium was used by the Aleut and Dena’ina as a treatment for sore throat, making tea to gargle from the leaves.
The woolly geranium is a tall perennial herb that grows from a horizontal rootstock or rhizome 5-10 mm in diameter. The stem is erect and 10-90 cm (4-36 in) tall. Leaves are large, alternate, slightly hairy, and deeply divided and toothed, somewhat resembling a maple leaf. The flowers are blue to violet or lavender with 5 petals about 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. The petals have dark, radial stripes and a deep purple stamen. Flowers may be singular or in a cluster of 2-3 (possibly up to 5). It also has smaller, bristly sepals. The seed capsules are thin, pointed, hairy carpels that look somewhat like the bill of a crane (hence a common name “cranesbill”) that split open suddenly, expelling the seeds.
Distribution and Habitat
In North America, Geranium erianthum is found in Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta. It is also found in Asia in Japan, China, and eastern Siberia.
Woolly geranium is often found in meadows in many elevations, forests, and scrub, preferring moist soils.
|Rank||Scientific Name (Common Name)|
|Subkingdom||Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)|
|Superdivision||Spermatophyta (Seed plants)|
|Division||Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)|
|Family||Geraniaceae (Geranium family)|
|Genus||Geranium L. (geranium)|
|Species||Geranium erianthum DC. (woolly geranium)|
References and Further Reading
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 12
Geranium erianthum DC. woolly geranium, USDA Database
Geranium erianthum, Scientific Description from efloras.org (Flora of China)
Woolly geranium – Geranium erianthum, Wildflowers of the National Forests in Alaska – USDA, pg. 10
Geranium erianthum DC., E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia
Geranium erianthum, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
All online sources accessed October 2020 unless otherwise noted