Weed of the Month-September 2018



(Geranium molle)

  (Photos: E. Cousins: flower; C. Schultz, plant)

We were confused by this one when we first saw it; for a little while we thought it was a non-weedy native geranium, called Geranium solanderi (Australian crane’s-bill). What gave it away though was a good look at the leaf and flower shapes…and the fact that it did, quite literally, grow like a weed!! The soft crane’s-bill has leaves with a circular outline and lots of lobes not deeply divided (incisions go only a short way towards the leaf stem). The leaves of the Australian crane’s-bill, in contrast, have 5-7 lobes, deeply divided, with each lobe having 3 smaller lobes. How else will you know the weedy one? Stems have long, soft white hairs growing along them (‘molle’ is from the latin for ‘softly hairy’). Also, check out the flowers in spring-summer. They occur in pairs. As you can see in the photo above, flowers have five deeply notched pink-mauve petals around a cluster of dark stamens. The second photo above illustrates how small the flowers are in relation to the leaves… the flowers are only about 8-10mm in diameter. Flowers are followed by fruits with a long beak, the crane’s bill.