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Geranium Maculatum

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The Geranium Maculatum or Wild Geranium

Geranium maculatum or wild geranium is a perennial plant, these lovely plants are hardy in zones 3-8. The geranium maculatum is also known by the names cranesbill geranium, alum root, spotted geranium and wood geranium. The Geranium maculatum typically grows in the woods and spreads easily, although it does well in full sun. This hardy plant consists of unbranched stems and blooms in spring to early summer. The blooms are usually pink to purplish and the blooms attract butterflies and bees. The petals have darker colored lines that attract insects for pollinating. Wild geranium is a terrific plant for native bees. The flowers are 1 to 1½ inches across with 5 petals and 10 stems with yellow tips. The average height of the plant is 24 inches and has a width of 12-18 inches.

The geranium maculatum seeds are packed into pods and attached to a structure that resembles a cranes bill. When it dries, it catapults the seeds away from the host plant. The seeds then use their small tail-like structure that bends and moves in response to changes in humidity. This process helps the seeds anchor to the soil to germinate.

The geranium maculatum has been used in herbal medicine. It is considered an astringent. The Mesquakie Indians used this plant for a root tea, treating toothache and painful nerves and mashed the roots for treating hemorrhoids. The Ojibwe or Chippewa used the dried and powdered roots to remedy mouth ulcers, inflamed gums and sore throats. Some substances found in this plant are tannin's, gallic acid, starch, pectin, and resin. The root can contain between 12 to 25 percent tannin, with the highest count just before flowering.

Enjoy the geranium maculatum in the woods or in your own garden. The wild geranium prefers moist soil with lots of organic matter. It is a delicate looking plant, but looks are deceiving as this little beauty is also very hardy.

Scientific Name: Geranium Maculatum

USDA Climate Zone - 3-8

Foliage Height: 1.5 to 2 feet

Foliage Width: 1 to 1.5 feet

Growth/Year: 1.5 - 2 feet

Soil Type: Drought Tolerant, but prefers a moist humus soil

Sun: Full Sun to part shade


The Geranium Maculatum, commonly known as a wild Geranium, loves a moist humus-type soil. It is a herbaceous woodland perennial with foliage that grows in small mounds. The colorful five-petal flowers are showy butterfly magnets that bloom for about 6-7 weeks, starting in April. The leaves, which start out a lovely chocolate-brown, turn reddish-brown in the fall. Once the flowers stop blooming, distinctive beak-shaped capsules emerge. This is probably why wild geraniums are also sometimes called cranesbill.