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Recognize this ‘weed’?

2011 April 14

PHOTO BY KEN MOORE. Palmately dissected geranium leaves are easy to spot among speedwells and henbits.

By Ken Moore
Flora Columnist

This cool and moist spring allows my flowering yard to go on and on!!

My Welsh gardening friend, Sue Morgan, was impressed while carefully stepping through my un-mown sweep of flowering weeds. She was particularly keen on geranium-like leaves extending above the henbits and speedwells.

Normally the leaves of the inconspicuous little wild geranium, more commonly called Carolina crane’s-bill, Geranium carolinianum, are no larger than a half-dollar at best. This spring my usual crop of annual wild geranium displays leaves as large as any prized perennial garden-type geranium.

The characteristic round, palmately dissected geranium leaf easily contrasts with the still-flowering purple henbit, Lamium purpureum and bird’s-eye speedwell, Veronica persica. I receive numerous inquiries from folks describing the details of some little plant – like this little wild geranium – that is worrisome because it grows rampantly across lawns and flowerbeds. Take a good look at this geranium leaf. It’s likely that you have it slinking about somewhere in your lawn and garden.

I enjoy letting these early spring ‘weeds’ run cheerfully over my landscape. Unlike the colorful henbits and speedwells, the tiny pink geranium flower is so small that it goes unnoticed, except to the keen eye of friend Sue, who was downright charmed by the “perfect miniature geranium flower.”

For me, the real beauty of this little native annual is not the flower. Taking a “closer look,” the real beauty for me is found in the red tinges of the aging leaves and the brilliant red color of the persistent sepals surrounding the five dark seeds at the base of the beak-like center.

Though friend Sue does not allow such flowering weeds similar freedom in her well-manicured garden, she’s happy to view them in my yard.

Words are not as effective as visual images in illustrating the subtle beauties. Before you pull it, take a closer look; you too may find some beauty there.

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Read more Ken Moore Citizen columns at The Annotated Flora

PHOTO BY KEN MOORE. There is subtle beauty in the aging geranium leaf.

PHOTO BY KEN MOORE. When fully mature, each of the five geranium seeds will be catapulted from the base of the red sepals.

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