Wild Geranium (Crane's Bill)

Photo of wild geranium plant with flowers
Scientific Name
Geranium maculatum
Geraniaceae (geraniums)

Wild geranium is an herbaceous perennial, much branched on stiff, hairy stems. Frequently found in colonies. Flowers about 1 inch across, few to several on long peduncles subtended by leaflike bracts; petals 5, deep magenta to pink or rose, often marked with darker shades. The 10 anthers wither before the stigma is receptive, ensuring cross-fertilization. Blooms April–June. Leaves with long petioles (leaf stems); basal leaves 5–7, cleft into wedge-shaped sections; stem leaves only 2 on a stem, smaller, on shorter petioles. Fruit a 5-parted capsule, narrow and sharply pointed, resembling a “crane’s bill.”


Height: to about 2 feet.

Where To Find
image of Wild Geranium Crane’s Bill distribution map

Statewide, except for the southeastern lowlands.

Occurs in open low and upland woods, borders of woods, shaded areas, and a variety of other sites. You may also see it cultivated in gardens, where it grows in part shade and rich soils. Native wildflower nurseries often sell this flower, which is one of our showiest natives. Please don’t remove plants from the wild.

Wild geranium held an important place in Native American medicine. In particular, many tribes made use of its astringent properties, using it to treat everything from mouth sores to hemorrhoids. Today we mainly appreciate this plant for its beautiful flowers.

Several insects visit the flowers for nectar and pollen, and some small rodents eat the seeds. Herbivores, including deer, eat the foliage.

Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!