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Genus Erodium Family Geraniaceae
Common Name: Storkbills, Crowfoot

Description: Ascending annual or short-lived perennial herbs [or shrubs].

Leaves opposite or alternate, usually simple and pinnately or palmately lobed or dissected or pinnately or ternately compound; leaves becoming smaller up stems.

Inflorescences cymose umbels of 2–7 flowers or flowers solitary. Flowers ± actinomorphic. Sepals 5, not spurred. Petals 5, usually slighter longer than sepals, blue or purplish to pink, rarely white. Fertile stamens 5, alternating with 5 staminodes; staminodes about half as long as stamens.

Mericarps ± hirsute with stiff antrorse hairs, separating completely from the column and surmounted by a spiral awn with ± long stiff hairs on the inner surface, not releasing the seed; mericarps hirsute with mostly short stiff antrorse hairs; pits at the base of the awn sometimes glandular-hairy.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 60 species, temperate regions, especially Europe, Africa & Australia. Australia: 9 species (3 species endemic, 6 species naturalized), all States.

The sharply pointed 'seeds' (mericarps) often cause damage to sheep by penetrating their flesh.

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Erodium janszii

 Key to the species 
1Leaves pinnately compound, the leaflets toothed to deeply pinnatisect2
Leaves shallowly lobed to deeply dissected, pinnatifid to pinnatisect or palmatisect or ternately dissected3
2Leaflets toothed; pits on the mericarp at the base of the awns with large glandular hairsErodium moschatum
Leaflets deeply pinnatisect; pits on the mericarps without glandular hairs
                       Back to 1
Erodium cicutarium
3Pits on the mericarp at the base of the awns with large glandular hairs4
Pits on the mericarp at the base of the awns without glandular hairs
                       Back to 1
4Basal leaves more or less ovate, shallowly lobed; awn on sepals c. 1 mm long, conspicuousErodium malacoides
Basal leaves oblong-ovate, more or less deeply lobed; awn on sepals c. 0.5 mm long, inconspicuous
                       Back to 3
Erodium aureum
5Hairs on the calyx mostly non-glandularErodium crinitum
Hairs on the calyx mostly glandular
                       Back to 3
6Hairs on the stems glandular; leaves 3-lobedErodium carolinianum
Hairs on the stems coarse and non-glandular towards base; leaves pinnately lobed or dissected
                       Back to 5
7Pits on the mericarp at the base of the awn glabrous with an acute papery rim; awn usually more than 8.5 cm longErodium botrys
Pits on the mericarp at the base of the awn hirsute, with an obtuse rim; awn ± 8.5 cm long
                       Back to 6
Erodium brachycarpum

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