Closely related to the Crane's bills - and at one time included in the genus Geranium with them - are the Stork's-bills, of which we have three British representatives. Only one of the three, however, is at all plentiful, and that is the one we have figured. It is a common species, but must be looked for on dry wastes and commons, especially near the coast. Quite apart from its umbels of pretty pink flowers it is a handsome plant. The leaves are cut up into a large number of leaflets, arranged in slightly irregular pairs on either side of the rib, and these leaflets are cut up into many irregular lobes. It is the arrangement so common in ferns: the leaf is pinnate, because it is furnished with pinnae or wings, and as the pinnae are themselves almost winged they are pinnatifid, or cut in a pinnate manner. The parts of the flower agree in number with Geranium, that is, sepals five, petals five, stamens ten (but five are aborted, and produce no anthers), stigmas five. The fruits agree pretty closely with those of the Crane's-bills, but in Erodium the tails of the carpels are lined on their inner face with fine silky hairs, and instead of curling simply they twist spirally, and cause the hairs to stand out at right angles. The seed remains attached to the tail, which becomes detached from the axis of the style and is blown to the ground. There the twisted tail is alternately lengthened and shortened by moisture and dryness of the atmosphere, and with assistance of the hairs this automatic movement gradually forces the pointed hairy seed into the ground. It flowers from June to September.

Stork's bill.


Erodium cicutarium.

- Geraniaceae. -