Mustard Barberry, Spiderwort And Phlox Families
Iris Family Iridaceae
Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families
( Originally Published 1908 )
As now restricted by the leading botanists the Geranium family is a small group of which the common Wild Geranium is a typical example. These are herbaceous plants in which the alternate or opposite leaves are almost always provided with stipules and in which the flowers have all the parts regularly arranged. There are usually five sepals and five petals, with five or more stamens and a single pistil in which the ovary commonly has five lobes and the style is tipped with five stigmas.
WILD GERANIUM. The common Wild Geranium or Spotted Crane's-bill is a widely distributed plant, occurring in the East from Newfoundland to Georgia and extending westward beyond the Great Lakes. It is a perennial, sending up stems and leaves from the thickened rootstock early in spring. The magenta-pink flowers begin to appear about the middle of spring and continue until the middle of summer, being most abundant during May. When each blossom first opens the anthers shed the pollen, so that it is practically all gone before the stigmas unfold. If you will examine a few flowers of different ages you can easily see that this is true, and while you are looking see if you can find any hairs on the inner surface of the petals. Are they so situated as to protect the nectar at the base of the flower from being washed away by rain? The presence of such hairs in the Crane's-bill that grows in Germany first led the naturalist, Sprengel, to study the relations of flowers and insects—a subject to which, before his time, no one had given careful attention.
If you find some flowers which have gone by and which are maturing the long seed pods you will readily see why the plant is called the Crane's-bill, and if you touch some of the seed pods that are brown and ripe you will see an interesting way in which a plant may scatter its seeds.
HERB ROBERT. The Herb Robert or Red Robin is a species of Wild Geranium which is often found in rocky woods throughout the East-ern States. It is an annual or biennial plant, with flowers much smaller than those of the Wild Geranium, and it is not nearly so attractive as a wild flower as is the more common species. In various parts of the country there are also several other species of Crane's-bills, most of which have rather small blossoms. One of the most interesting of these is the Siberian Crane's-bill, which has been introduced from Asia and which is found abundantly in the outskirts of New York City.