Geranium pratense




pronounced: jer-ray-nee-AY-see-eye

the geranium or cranesbill family family

The name is derived from the Greek γερανος (geranos), a crane. Members of the family usually have blue, mauve, red, pink or white (not yellow) flowers with 5 petals. It is the fruits that give this family its name. In most cases, the fruit is a schizocarp with 5 one-seeded mericarps, each tapering from the apex to the base, and joined together in a circle with a beak-like stylar column in the centre. The fruit opens explosively when the seeds are ripe, and casts the mericarps away from the parent plant. Each mericarp takes a strip from the style to acquire a usually hygroscopically active awn, that twists into a corkscrew. The awns uncoil when wet, and contract when dry, and the pointed mericarp is thus driven into the ground, and secured with retrorse hairs (barbs).



Illustration from Flora Batava by Janus Kops (volume 5) 1828, via Wikimedia Commons