Introduced. Annual or biennial. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: April to September. Seed-time: Late May to October. Range: Nova Scotia to Oregon, southward to New Jersey, Texas, and Mexico. Very abundant on the Pacific coast. Habitat: Dry soil; fields and waste places.
In the arid lands of the West and the Southwest, the Filaree is valued as a pasture plant when young; but where better forage is plentiful it is regarded as a weed. Stems tufted, six inches to a foot in height, hairy, somewhat viscid, reddish, usually branched above. Leaves pinnatifid, the segments again finely cut and toothed, the lower ones with petioles, the upper ones sessile. Flowers in umbellate clusters of two to twelve, pink or light purple, about a third of an inch broad; petals five, with rounded tips; sepals five, bristle-pointed and hairy; stamen-bearing anthers five, alternating with as many sterile filaments; carpels and styles five, united into a "stork's-bill" one or two inches long, when ripe splitting from a central axis into spirally twisted and bearded awns or beaks with sickle-bent tips; when damp the awns straighten and when dry they recoil, thus being easily caught in the fleeces of sheep, and the seed so distributed. (Fig. 182.)
Occupying about the same range as this plant is a near relative, the Musk Clover, or Musky Alfilaria (Erodium moschatum, L'Her.), a larger, coarser plant, with less finely divided leaves and somewhat larger flowers. Less valuable as a forage plant, for cattle do not relish its musky odor and taste; sheep, however, do not seem to object to it. Both plants invade grain fields to the disadvantage of the crop.
Prevent seed production. Put the ground under cultivation in order to stir dormant seeds into germination, and give such frequent tillage that no seedlings will be allowed to mature.