Geranium carolinianum-Carolina Crane’s Bill

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-9.

Carolina Crane’s Bill, Carolina Geranium

Geranium carolinianum

jer-AY-nee-um  kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-um

Synonyms of Geranium carolinianum (11) (Updated on 1-24-21): Geranium atrum Moench, Geranium carolinianum f. albiflorum B.Boivin, Geranium carolinianum var. confertiflorum Fernald, Geranium carolinianum var. sphaerospermum (Fernald) Breitung, Geranium carolinum Crantz, Geranium dissectum var. carolinianum (L.) Hook.f., Geranium langloisii Greene, Geranium lanuginosum Jacq., Geranium lenticulum Raf., Geranium sphaerospermum Fernald, Geranium thermale Rydb.

Geranium carolinianum L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Carolina Crane’s Bill. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. 

The genus, Geranium Tourn. ex L., was also described by Linnaeus but he gave credit to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort for first naming and describing the genus. Many databases omit the “Tourn. ex”.

Plants of the World Online lists 355 species in the Geranium genus (as of 1-24-21 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the plant family Geraniaceae with a total of 8 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made.

Distribution map of Geranium carolinianum from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved on May 18, 2020.

The above distribution map for Geranium carolinianum is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green is where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map from the USDA Plants Database for North America shows a broader range. The species is listed as invasive in several states.

There are several plants at the bottom of the page for further reading and to help with a better positive ID.

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-40.

I first noticed a single plant struggling to survive in a HUGE colony of Ranunculus parviflorus south of the pond in the front pasture. Then, on April 24 I noticed a much larger plant in an area behind the chicken house. Most websites say this species is an annual, but MSU Weeds and Wildflowers says different. They say the species is a biennial, winter annual, or summer annual that forms a 6-12″ diameter rosette the first year and flowers the second.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-41.

Even without flowers, these plants leaves are really neat. If the leaves didn’t have all those lobes they would be somewhat round, larger leaves about 3″ wide and slightly shorter. Information says leaves are somewhat kidney-shaped, deeply palmately 5-9 lobed, and are sparsely to densely pubescent (hairy). Lower leaves have long petioles (stems) while the upper leaves have shorter petioles.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-42.

The leaves are also “stipulate” meaning there are “stipules” at the base of the petiole where they attach the plant’s stem. Stipules are “leaf-like” appendages, usually in pairs, at the base of the leaf stem. With Geranium carolinianum, the stipules are a pinkish color.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-43.

New stem growth is covered with white hairs, so much that the stems appear white.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-44.

The above photo is a good example of the plant’s pinkish stipules and new branched coming from the leaf axils along the stem.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-46.

The above photo shows heavy veining on the undersides of the leaves. Leave undersides are paler in color than the upper surface due to the very short white hairs.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-3-20, #695-14).

The above photo was taken on May 2 and shows a ultitude of leaves and how mych plants bush out by the time they begin to bud.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-3-20, #695-15.

The above photo shows a cluster of buds on top of the plant. The numerous side branches also terminate with flowers.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-9.

I went to check on the progress of this colony on May 11 and the buds were beginning to open.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-10.

Ummm… The pinkish flowers have 5 petals with darker pink lines. They are very small so it was somewhat difficult to get a good photo. Besides having 5 petals, they also have 5 sepals, 1 stamens 5 styles but no staminodes.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-11.

Another leaf shot from May 11, 2020.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-13.

A close-up shot of the stipules and hairy stems.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-14.

Flowers appear on the end of branches and the top of the main stem in pairs or small clusters.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-15.


Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 5-11-20, #698-16.

As you can see, the flowers are very small…

I checked the small colony behind the chicken house on May 29 and almost could find it in the tall grass. Then I walked to see about the one below the pond and found a HUGE colony I hadn’t noticed before. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera. The plants are now setting seed so I need to take photos…

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky

NOTE: Plants of the World Online is the most up-to-date database. It is very hard for some to keep with name changes these days so you may find a few discrepancies between the websites. Just be patient. Hopefully, someday they will be in harmony. 🙂