Meadow crane's-bill


Meadow crane's-bill

One of the loveliest of the wildflowers of Britain and Ireland, Meadow Crane's-bill (Geranium pratense) flowers are usually violet-blue, and sometimes a very deep blue on chalky soil, but pink and even pure white specimens are also seen occasionally.

Meadow crane's-bill can be seen in lowland hay meadows, roadside verges and grasslands, particularly ones on chalky soils. It flowers between June and August, colouring the roadsides of areas like the Cotswolds. It is also a popular garden plant that will grow well in sunny spots.

Much less common in hay meadows, these days, meadow crane's-bill in now largely restricted to road verges due to changes in agricultural practices. However the plant is still widespread in Britain, though scarcer in northern Scotland.

The large, purple-blue flowers turn into pointed, bill-like seed pods that give the plant its common name. This clump-forming perennial has lobed leaves that are deeply divided, and in autumn these leaves turn a deep red.

The nectar-rich flowers of Meadow crane's-bill are a favourite of many species of bee, including Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebees, and Honeybees.

Cultivated versions of this (hardy) geranium are popular in gardens. The famous 'Johnson's Blue' is a meadow crane's-bill/Geranium himalayense hybrid.

Further reading

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