THE CRANESBILLS (Geranium spp.)

Meadow cranesbill in Helmdon Road

Cut-leaved cranesbill

Herb Robert

The hardy geraniums - cousins of the tender pelargoniums - earn their common name of cranesbill from the resemblance, in shape, of the seed-head to a bird's beak. There are many species native to Britain, especially in limestone areas. They include, for example, the Cut-leaved Cranesbill (G. dissectum) and Herb Robert (G. robertianum) - of which the foliage gives off a strong mouse-smell - both of which are commonly found in our parish in bare and sparsely-grassed places. The most conspicuous member of the genus, however, is the Meadow Cranesbill (G. pratense) whose lovely blue flowers may be seen on the verges of Helmdon Road and in Sulgrave's Pocket Park. There are many garden variants of this, in colours ranging from violet through lilac and pink to white, and including a double form, but none is more beautiful than the wild original.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Notes by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.