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Sea Storksbill

Erodium maritimum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Geraniaceae (Cranesbill)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Grassland, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, walls.

Pink, 5 petals
A very short flowering pink flower, measuring 4 to 6mm across. Flowers are either solitary or paired.
Beak fruit, about 1cm in length.
An annual flower with pinnately lobed leaves.
Other Names:
Seaside Stork's-bill.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Erodium maritimum, also known as seaside stork's-bill, is a species of flowering plant in the geranium family (Geraniaceae). It is native to the Mediterranean region and Western Europe. It is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows upto 40 cm tall. It has pinnate leaves with toothed leaflets and produces small, delicate, pink or white flowers with five petals. It blooms in Spring-Summer. It is adapted to grow in salt spray, sandy soils and it prefers to grow in well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade. It is hardy in USDA zones 5-9.


Sea storksbill, also known as Erodium maritimum, is a fascinating plant species that is commonly found along the sandy coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe. The plant is part of the geranium family and is known for its unique, bright pink to purple flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.

The Sea storksbill is a small, annual herbaceous plant that grows up to 40 cm in height. It has deeply divided leaves that resemble those of a fern, and it produces clusters of pink to purple flowers that are about 1-2 cm in diameter. The flowers have five petals that are arranged in a star shape, with a darker center and lighter edges.

One of the most interesting features of Sea storksbill is its unique reproductive strategy. The plant produces long, narrow, pointed fruits that resemble the beak of a stork, hence its common name. The fruits have a spiraling shape and are covered in tiny hooks that allow them to attach to passing animals, ensuring that the plant's seeds are dispersed over a wider area.

Sea storksbill is a salt-tolerant plant that thrives in sandy coastal areas and is often found growing in dunes and salt marshes. It is an important species for stabilizing sand dunes and preventing erosion, as its deep roots help to anchor the plant in the shifting sand. In addition to its ecological importance, Sea storksbill also has some medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of digestive disorders, respiratory infections, and skin irritations.

Unfortunately, Sea storksbill is under threat due to human activities such as coastal development, sand mining, and pollution. As a result, it has been classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). To protect this species, it is important to raise awareness of its ecological and cultural value and to encourage conservation efforts in coastal areas where Sea storksbill is found.

Sea storksbill is a unique and fascinating plant species that plays an important role in the ecology of coastal areas. Its distinctive flowers and fruits, salt tolerance, and medicinal properties make it an interesting plant for botanists and nature enthusiasts alike. However, the threats facing this species highlight the need for increased conservation efforts to protect and preserve this important coastal plant.

Sea storksbill is a plant that has been cultivated for ornamental purposes, and its attractive pink to purple flowers make it a popular choice for coastal gardens. It is easy to grow and can thrive in a range of soil conditions, as long as it has good drainage and plenty of sunlight. It is often grown as an annual, but in milder climates, it can be grown as a perennial.

Aside from its ecological and ornamental value, Sea storksbill also has some culinary uses. The plant has a tangy, slightly bitter taste, and its leaves can be used as a salad green or added to soups and stews. The fruits, which are shaped like stork beaks, can also be used to add a tangy flavor to dishes.

In traditional medicine, Sea storksbill has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, respiratory infections, and skin irritations. The plant contains several compounds with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which may explain its therapeutic effects. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the plant's medicinal properties and to determine safe and effective doses.

Sea storksbill is a unique and valuable plant species that plays an important role in coastal ecosystems. It is a plant with many fascinating features, from its distinctive flowers and fruits to its medicinal and culinary uses. By protecting and preserving this species, we can ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate its ecological and cultural value.

Sea storksbill is an important plant for wildlife, providing food and habitat for a range of insects and birds. The flowers are a valuable nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while the leaves and fruits provide food for herbivorous insects such as caterpillars and beetles. The plant also provides cover and nesting sites for ground-nesting birds such as skylarks and ringed plovers.

Sea storksbill is a pioneer plant species that is able to colonize and stabilize bare, sandy areas. Its deep roots help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil quality by increasing organic matter and nitrogen levels. This, in turn, creates a more favorable environment for other plant species to establish and grow.

The conservation of Sea storksbill is important not only for its ecological value but also for its cultural and historical significance. The plant has been used in traditional medicine, as well as in the production of dyes and perfumes. It has also been mentioned in literature, art, and folklore, and is a symbol of resilience and adaptation to harsh environments.

In recent years, there have been efforts to conserve and protect Sea storksbill and other coastal plant species. These efforts include the restoration and management of coastal habitats, the establishment of protected areas, and the promotion of sustainable coastal development practices. By working together to conserve these valuable plants, we can help to ensure the long-term health and resilience of our coastal ecosystems.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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