Wood Geranium, Cranesbill, or Wild Geranium
What a spring it is for wild geranium! Today I found drifts of them growing along the roadside next to Big Stoney Creek in Giles County. Although these were open-grown, I also found plenty growing in the woods around Glen Alton and White Rocks campground.
Wild geranium is a woodland perennial that comes back each year from an underground rhizome. It is well-adapted to shade and prefers moist woodlands, although it will also grow in full sun. The plant’s height range is 1 to 3 feet. Wild geraniums begin to bloom in April and continue into early summer.
The flowers of wild geranium are about an inch across, each one consisting of 5 petals. The petals are pale pink to purple and have intriguing lines leading to the center of the flower—traffic signs for would-be pollinators! Look closely at the center of the flower to see the “cranesbill”. This structure will become more pronounced when the flower goes to seed (see photos). All geraniums are easy to recognize by their palmately-lobed leaves.
This native wildflower is often cultivated in home gardens. Once established, it will slowly form colonies and come back faithfully year after year. It is a fine companion for hostas, ferns, and other shade-tolerant plants. The photos of pale pink wild geraniums below are from a woodland garden in my yard yard.