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Pencilled Cranesbill

Geranium versicolor

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Geraniaceae (Cranesbill)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, woodland.

White, 5 petals
White flowers with pink or maroon veining. The petals are less deeply cut that most other Geranium species.
The fruit resembles a long beak. Cranesbill's are named after the shape of their fruit.
A perennial, semi-evergreen garden escape with deeply lobed, toothed, light green leaves. Clump-forming.
Other Names:
Geranium Striatum, Pencilled Geranium, Rock Cranesbill, Rock Geranium, Veined Geranium.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Geranium versicolor, also known as rock cranesbill or rock geranium, is a perennial herb in the family Geraniaceae. It is native to North America and is found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows, and grasslands. Rock cranesbill has small, pink or purple flowers that bloom in the summer, and its leaves are lobed and hairy. The plant gets its common name from the distinctive shape of its seed capsule, which resembles the bill of a crane. Rock cranesbill is often grown as an ornamental plant, and it is also used in traditional medicine. It is known for its ability to tolerate dry, rocky soils and is often found growing in rocky or gravelly areas.


Pencilled Cranesbill, also known as Geranium versicolor, is a beautiful flowering plant that belongs to the geranium family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to many other regions, including North America. This plant is valued for its striking blue flowers and its ability to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions.

One of the defining characteristics of Pencilled Cranesbill is its delicate, blue flowers. Each flower has five petals and a distinctive beak-like shape, which gives the plant its name. The flowers bloom in spring and summer, providing a bright and cheerful addition to any garden or landscape.

In addition to its beautiful flowers, Pencilled Cranesbill is also known for its ability to grow in a variety of soils and conditions. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soils, from sandy to clay, and can even grow in areas that are damp or poorly drained. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is both beautiful and low-maintenance.

Pencilled Cranesbill is also an excellent choice for those who are looking to attract pollinators to their garden. The blue flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies, making this plant a valuable addition to any wildlife-friendly garden.

When it comes to caring for Pencilled Cranesbill, the plant is relatively low-maintenance. It does best in full sun, but can also grow in partial shade. It is important to water the plant regularly, especially during hot, dry spells, to help it stay healthy and produce a good display of flowers.

Another aspect that makes Pencilled Cranesbill a popular choice among gardeners is its ability to spread and form a dense ground cover. The plant can grow up to 15 inches tall, and its leaves are typically green and slightly lobed. It spreads via underground stems, and over time, can form a lush carpet of foliage that can help to suppress weeds.

Pencilled Cranesbill is also a great plant for use in rock gardens, as it is able to grow in poor soils and rocky outcroppings. Its ability to tolerate drought conditions makes it an excellent choice for xeriscaping, or low-water gardening. In fact, this plant is often used in water-wise landscapes to provide a splash of color and interest.

When planting Pencilled Cranesbill, it is important to choose a location that has well-draining soil and that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. The plant can be propagated by division or by seeds, and it is generally easy to grow from both. For the best results, plant the seeds in the spring or early summer, and be sure to keep the soil consistently moist until the seedlings are well-established.

In addition to its ornamental qualities, Pencilled Cranesbill is also said to have some medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions, including digestive problems, skin irritation, and inflammation. It is also believed to have mild sedative and pain-relieving effects. However, it is important to note that further scientific research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of this plant.

In conclusion, Pencilled Cranesbill is a versatile and beautiful plant that has much to offer the modern gardener. Whether you are looking to add a pop of color to your garden, create a ground cover, or attract pollinators, this plant is sure to be a valuable addition to your landscape.

Pencilled Cranesbill is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of garden styles and settings. Whether you are creating a traditional English garden, a xeriscaped landscape, or a wildflower meadow, this plant is sure to fit right in.

In addition to its ornamental qualities, Pencilled Cranesbill can also be used in landscaping for erosion control. Its dense growth habit and extensive root system make it a great choice for stabilizing slopes and preventing soil erosion. This makes it an ideal plant for use in naturalized landscapes, such as woodland gardens or meadows.

When it comes to planting and caring for Pencilled Cranesbill, there are a few things to keep in mind. This plant is hardy and can tolerate a range of growing conditions, but it does best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It is also important to provide adequate sunlight, as the plant may become leggy and produce fewer flowers if it is grown in too much shade.

It is also important to keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the hottest parts of the summer. Drought conditions can cause the leaves to wilt, and can even lead to the plant dying. Regular watering, especially during hot spells, is essential for keeping Pencilled Cranesbill healthy and producing a good display of flowers.

Finally, it is important to keep the plant trimmed and deadhead spent blooms regularly. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers, and will keep it looking neat and tidy.

In conclusion, Pencilled Cranesbill is a versatile and beautiful flowering plant that is perfect for gardeners of all skill levels. With its attractive blue flowers, low-maintenance requirements, and ability to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions, this plant is sure to be a valuable addition to your landscape. So why not consider adding Pencilled Cranesbill to your garden today, and enjoy the beauty and charm of this lovely flowering plant!

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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