Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill)

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 6-11-13, #155-11.

Bloody Cranesbill

Geranium sanguineum

jer-AY-nee-um  san-GWIN-ee-um

Synonyms of Geranium sanguineum (18) (Updated on 12-25-22 from Plants of the World Online): Geranium grandiflorum Gilib. (1782)(opus utique oppr.), Geranium lancastriense Mill. (1768), Geranium prostratum Cav. (1787), Geranium sanguineiforme Rouy & Foucaud (1897), Geranium sanguineum var. album Jekyll & E.T.Cook (1900), Geranium sanguineum var. angustilobum Sennen (1922)(nom. nud.), Geranium sanguineum var. biflorum Rozeira (1946)(nom. illeg.), Geranium sanguineum var. elatius Lej. (1836), Geranium sanguineum var. erectum Weston (1771), Geranium sanguineum f. grandiflorum Font Quer (1924), Geranium sanguineum var. incisum Weston (1771), Geranium sanguineum var. lancastriense (Mill.) Gray (1821 publ. 1822), Geranium sanguineum var. majus Gray (1821 publ. 1822), Geranium sanguineum var. prostratum (Cav.) Willd. (1800), Geranium sanguineum subsp. sanguineiforme Rouy (1897), Geranium sanguineum var. sanguineiforme (Rouy) P.Fourn. (1937), Geranium sanguineum var. striatum Weston (1771), Geranium sanguineum f. villosum Pamp. (1920)

Geranium sanguineum L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Bloody Cranesbill. This species was named and described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

Geranium sanguineum var. striatum is definitely alive and well online EVEN THOUGH the variety IS NOT an accepted scientific infraspecific name. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder lists both even though TROPICOS (database and division of the Missouri Botanical Garden) doesn’t list G. s. var. striatum. The Royal Botanical Society lists both and has even given both the prestigious Award of Garden Merit. Plants of the World Online by Kew, the International Plant Names Index, TROPICOS, The Plant List, or World Flora Online do not list Geranium sanguineum var. striatum as accepted or even as a synonym because… Apparently, the name has not been published. Photos of the variety show their flowers to be larger and lighter pink than the species, usually with the same maroon markings. 

The genus, Geranium Tourn. ex L., is the correct and accepted name for the genus. It was originally named by and described by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. It was later described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753 giving Mr. Tournefort credit for naming the genus. Mr. Tournefort is known for being the botanist who made a clear definition of the concept of plant genera. 

As of 11-25-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 354 accepted species of Geranium. It is a member of the plant family Geraniaceae with 8 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-14-13, #148-10.

When I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013, I was happy to see descendants of the Geranium sanguineum I had planted in the early 1980’s were still here. I had moved into my grandparent’s (my mother’s parents) home after my grandfather passed in April 1981. My grandparents were exceptional gardeners and had HUGE gardens on both sides of the house, an apple and peach orchard, lots of grapevines, blackberries, and raspberries. You might say if it could be grown here, my grandparents had it. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and I guess their jor of gardening passed to me. My father was also a very good gardener as were his parents.

After I moved to the farm, I went ahead and planted the gardens on both sides of the house as grandpa had always done. I also made several new beds around the house and bought a lot of plants from Bluestone Perennials. The ancestor of the surviving Geranium sanguineum was from Bluestone.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 6-1-13, #151-43.

There was an old raised concrete planted grandpa built all along the back porch. It had started crumbling so I removed it and made a new bed there which is where I planted the Geranium sanguineum. After I married and moved away in 1987, it became dad’s responsibility to mow the yard and everything. Needless to say, that wasn’t easy for him because he had his own yard, garden, and a full-time job.

He retired in 1996 and my parents decided to move to the farm. They had a manufactured home built and moved it where the garden used to be south of the driveway. Dad started using an area where the garden on the north side of my grandparent’s home was for his garden spot. Sometime after they moved there they chose to tear down my grandparent’s old house. Originally, they had given it to the Amish who planned on moving the entire house. The problem was getting it over the hump across the road where the railroad tracks had been. They found out that wouldn’t work so they tore it down and saved the lumber.

At some point, mom and dad didn’t take care of the old flower beds. The Hosta were mowed off (OUCH!) and the beds around the old fish pool were abandon and mowed down. Luckily, dad moved the Geranium sanguineum to the north side of their new home where they flourished. They get sun in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 6-11-13, #155-11.

Although I am not a “pink” person, you have to admire a plant that is determined to survive and please their caretakers with such a flush of flowers. They flower like this for several months then randomly until frost.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 6-1-14, #228-44.

They like sun to part shade which makes them very versatile. The only problem is that they can become quite thick and can have a little problem with crown rot, especially in a damp summer in more shade and soil that is not well-drained. Thinning them out a little will help. If you wait until they crown rot, you risk losing them all.

Geranium sanguineum new growth on 3-5-15, #232-3.

They are always among the first perennials to send up new growth in the spring and they kind of remind me of strawberries. Actually, they grow quite similar to strawberries. They spread by rhizomes although I wouldn’t exactly call them invasive. They just kind of slowly spread. Perhaps in a different location they may spread more rapidly.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-1-15, #248-7.

Even without the flowers, they look good. This photo was taken before they started flowering on May 1, 2015.

Typical Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) flower on 4-5-15, #250-3.

The flowers are a bright pink with maroon streaks. Looks pretty neat with the water on the petals.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-7-17, #327-2.

There was an issue with crown rot in 2016 but they have recovered well. I cleaned out the dead stems and it helped a lot.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-26-17, #334-4.


Geranium sanguineum flower on 9-10-17, #373-9.

Family: Geraniaceae
Origin: See Plants of the World Online link below
Zones: USDA Zones 3a-9b (-40-25° F)
Size: Up maybe 16” tall
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Average, well-drained
Water: Regular watering, drought tolerant once established
Propagation: Rhizomes in the spring
Uses: Groundcover
Concerns: Crown rot in crowded, damp conditions.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 10-31-17, #387-15.

Temperatures were getting cooler, but the Geranium sanguineum withstood several frosts and just kept producing new leaves.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 1-21-18, #404-3.

January 2018 had some VERY cold days and most everything was brown or gone. Basically, the only sign of green around the house is the Geranium sanguineum.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) looking good on 5-17-18, #443-34.

Geranium sanguineum is looking very well once again. I think I am going to transplant a few in other areas to see how they do. Maybe on the south side of the house.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-25-18, #448-9.

It is always good to see the Geranium sanguineum doing well and LOADED with flowers.

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) flower on 8-1-18, #490-3.

The above photo was the last I took of the Geranium sanguineum in 2018.


Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 3-10-19, #552-4.

The Geranium sanguineum has survived the winter and new growth is starting. Soon I will clean out the dead leaves and stems and get it ready for another season. The bed needs some work as many plants have died out.


Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 5-15-20, #700-6.

The Geranium sanguineum is still going at it, although not as well as a few years ago. I have been busy during the summer with the garden and have paid less attention to flower beds. I think in the spring when the chickweed is running rampant it lakes the soil stay to damp for the Geranium sanguineum


Again, I was busy over the summer and didn’t take many photos… Hopefully, 2022 will be different…


Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on 3-20-22, #862-13.

The Geranium sanguineum was one of the first perennials to come up in the spring of 2022. It is always great to see they made it through another winter.

There are several cultivars of Geranium sanguineum available online. Maybe someday I will try a few more.

There are also several Geranium and Pelargonium organizations from several countries but I didn’t want to list them all here. At some point, I will add links to more of them on the list at the bottom right of the blog.

I hope you found this page useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please leave a “Like” below if you have read this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can click on the links below for further information. The links take you directly to information about the genus and/or species. The information may vary from website to website depending on the authors and their references. Keeping up with plant name changes is difficult and some references may not be up-to-date. I stick with what Plants of the World Online by Kew says, as far as scientific names are concerned, because I believe they are the most up-to-date database and keep up to date.

(G. sanguineum/G. s. var. striatum)
(G. sanguineum/G. s. var. striatum)
(G. sanguineum/G. s. var. striatum)
(G. sanguineum/G. s. var. striatum)
(G. sanguineum/G. s. var. striatum)

2 comments on “Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill)

  1. Patricia Brewster-Willeke says:

    Loved reading this about your family gardening and the everlasting geranium. We have 3 different geraniums here in my garden and next door in my brother’s garden.where he has a lovely blue one. Originally planted by my mother when she moved here 31 years ago. I just potted up a dozen to take to a church bazaar for the plant booth tomorrow. Wonderful plants!

    Liked by 1 person

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