This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The seed-bearing beds have yielded no testimony as yet as to the antiquity (or otherwise) of this fine plant. It is found in the North Temperate and Arctic Zones, in Arctic Europe, and Siberia. It is found in several counties of England and Wales, as well as Scotland, but is absent apparently from N. Cornwall, N. Devon, Isle of Wight, W. Sussex, Carmarthen, Pembroke, Merioneth, Lincoln, Mid Lancashire, Isle of Man, Peebles, Selkirk, Stirling, Elgin, Inverness, Mid and N. Ebudes. It is found in the Orkneys. In the N. Highlands it is found only in East Ross. In the Highlands it is found at 1800 ft. In N.E. Ireland it is very rare.
The Meadow Crane's Bill is a plant of the meadows and fields, growing by the sides of streams, and generally in moist situations, usually in lowland districts, but sometimes at high elevations, under moist conditions. With it grow Meadow Sweet, Cowslip, Yellow Rattle, Self-heal, Spotted Orchid, amongst many others.
The habit of the Meadow Crane's Bill is more or less erect and pyramidal, inversely so, the leaves on long stalks, forming a flat platform above, radiating from the rootstock. Thus they present a wide surface to the light and air. The rootstock is blunt. The stems are erect to spreading, branched above, and are glandular hairy above, with the hairs turned downwards. The leaves are all stalked, the radical ones very long-stalked, and are rounded or palmate with seven lobes radiating from a common centre, the lobes cut and coarsely toothed, irregularly lobed, acute. The stipules are awl-shaped to lance-shaped.
The flowers are large, 1 - 1/4 in. across, bluish-purple, veined. The petals are long, inversely egg-shaped, entire or notched, the claw or stalk fringed with hairs, or bearded. The sepals are long-awned, spreading. The filaments are slender, wedge-shaped below, hairless, or hairy at the base. The flower-stalks are 2-flowered, bent back in fruit. The carpels are smooth, glandular to hairy, the hairs spreading. The seeds are minutely netted.