Thursday, April 26, 2018

Weed Profile: Dove's Foot Cranesbill (Geranium molle)

Tiny, blurry flowers
This is the second in our weed ID series. I've noticed this weed is very common at PG this year, and while it has some redeeming qualities, it's still competing with other plants for light and food, so it needs to go.

Latin name: Geranium molle ("jer-AY-nee-um" and "MOLL-ay")
Common name: Dove's Foot Cranesbill, Dovefoot Geranium
Originally from: Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean areas
Blooms: Flowers bloom all the time. They are small, pink/purple, and about 1/4" - 1/2" in diameter.  
Worst feature: It is everywhere!

Best feature: Cute leaves, tiny flowers, easy to weed out.
Height x width: 6"-14" x 6"-14"

The whole thing
How best to weed: Just pull it up by the roots - in damp soil they come out easily if you grab the whole base of them.
Don't mistake it for:  The fancier geraniums!

This annual plant grows quickly and seeds quickly too - like most annuals. But it can also survive over winter and become a short-lived perennial. It has pretty little leaves, and tiny purple flowers. Throw in somewhat hairy reddish stems and overall it's not ugly! But at the same time, it's not really a superb ground cover or fascinating specimen plant, like some of it's relatives (Pelargoniums etc) so by dint of being a bit dowdy, it's a weed. OK, now I feel a bit guilty.

Red stems and rounded leaves
It is native to the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean areas, and has naturalized in other parts of Europe, in southwestern and central Asia and in North Africa. It's not a threat to native ecosystems, however, so no cause for panic.

So it's not evil - but could it be useful? In 1652 Nicholas Culpeper  suggested a variety of uses for G. molle, including the treatment of internal and external injuries. Apparently the bruised leaf healed external injuries faster, and a boiled concentration in wine was said to relieve gout and other joint pains. But then, who has gout these days? If you do, please help yourself to this weed - take as many as you want!

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