Friday, 9 August 2019

Geraniums and Storksbills Key Features


Back in 2013 when I first started out taking photos of flowers, I had problems working out the identification of a Cut-leaved Cranesbill which had no petal notches, although I managed to work out what it was in the end. This was my first Geranium to be identified.
Since then I have learnt about using the hairs to separate Dovesfoot from Small-flowered and I thought I was familiar with this group.  My knowledge was really only skin deep and I would forget which species had the long hairs and had to open up Harrap's Wild Flower to check. It is hard to improve on the field guide which contains all the required information but the above is my attempt at a simple cut down reminder on how to separate Geraniums (and Storks-bills).  Different botanists have there own methods and these may be better than the ones I use, however I am puzzled that some effort goes into separating the leaf shape of Geranium molle from Geranium pusillium when the hairs on the flower and leaf stalks are an easy distinction.  I failed to find a reliable difference in leaf shape which was really reliable, so I decided to comment on the Key, 'Shape as Dovesfoot above'.   Leaves become more complex in shape in larger plants.
Geranium pusillum, large leaf.

Over the last six years I have learnt that flowers do not always follow the rules and as a beginner this can be very confusing. The first statement in this Key is that Geranium molle has 'Deeply notched petals' .

Geranium molle with little petal notching. 26th June 2019, Landguard. 
While searching out Sticky Storksbill at Landguard Point in Suffolk I came across a Geranium molle that showed very limited petal notching and I have seen this before, so I changed the first statement to '98% Deeply notched petals'. It is rare, but a warning that plants do not always follow key points. The petals are quite narrow and do not overlap which slightly unusual for G. Molle.

During this Summer project I have found and photographed four new species to complete the list. Wood Cranesbill was seen on a trip north to see Northern Hawk's-beard.
Musk Storksbill was found locally near Cambridge whereas Sea Storksbill required a trip to Minsmere RSPB Reserve in Suffolk. The final species, Sticky Storksbill proved the most difficult and 
is really hard to separate from Common Storksbill. A separate blog covers my problems and it highlights the variability of coastal Common Storksbill and the fact that at Landguard the key feature of how much the mericarp hairs overlap the pit is tricky to say the least.

I am not a Geranium expert so this should be seen as my attempt to learn and document what I have found. Please let me know using the comment field if you can see any mistakes in the ID Key so I can correct them.

Peter Leonard
Aug 2019

I have added a new blog covering Dovesfoot, Small-flowered and Hedgerow Cranesbill on this site with more detail than shown above. 

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