This week’s Weed – Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium)
With all rain of the last few days this is the perfect time to pull weeds. In fact, some, like Storksbill are nigh on impossible to pull at any other time. This one hugs the ground tightly and simply breaks off if the soil is dry.
Native to the Mediterranean, Storksbill was one of the first exotic plants to invade North America. It was apparently introduced into California during the early 1700’s by Spanish explorers. Now found worldwide above 70 degrees north and south latitude, in North America it has naturalized across Canada, in all 50 U.S. states except Florida and Louisiana and south into Baja California. Considered weedy or obnoxious in many locations, it is banned in Colorado.
Storksbill has many other common names, including filaree, alfileria, pinclover, pingrass, cranesbill, heronsbill. Three subspecies are proposed. A member of the Geranium Family (Geraniaceae), this low, spreading weed has small bright pink flowers on stalks rising from a ferny basal rosette. Although it is quite attractive as a small plant, it quickly grows into a mass low reddish stems which become dry and quite ugly when the long, spikey seeds mature. The seed pod bursts open in a spiral when ripe, flinging the seeds into the air.
In Chiloquin, Storksbill will germinate without any additional water several times over the course of the year, the new plants covering large areas and out-competing all native plants.