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Common Storksbill

Erodium cicutarium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Geraniaceae (Cranesbill)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Beaches, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, mountains, roadsides, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Small clusters of pinkish-purple flowers, sometimes white. 5 petals, the upper two each often having a black spot at their bases.
Beak-shaped fruit, up to 4cm long. This plant is named after the shape of its fruit.
2-pinnate leaves with linear stipules at the leaf bases. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. The leaflets are finely lobed and toothed.
Not pungent.
Other Names:
Alfilaree, Alfilaria, California Filaree, Coastal Heron's Bill, Cutleaf Filaree, Filaree, Hemlock Storksbill, Heron-bill, Pin Clover, Pingrass, Pinweed, Redstem Filaree, Redstem Storksbill, Redstemmed Filaree, Stork's-bill.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Erodium cicutarium, also known as common stork's-bill or redstem stork's-bill, is a species of flowering plant in the geranium family (Geraniaceae). It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. It is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows to be around 10-30 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 prefers to grow in well-drained soil, in full sun or partial shade. It is hardy in USDA zones 4-8 and it's considered a invasive species in some areas due to its ability to spread rapidly and displace native vegetation.


Common Storksbill, also known as Redstem Filaree, is a hardy and versatile plant that is native to Europe, but has now become widely naturalized in North America. It is a member of the Geranium family and is characterized by its attractive pink or lavender flowers and deeply lobed leaves.

The scientific name of this plant is Erodium cicutarium, and it is often found in dry, disturbed areas such as fields, meadows, roadsides, and waste places. It is particularly well adapted to survive in areas with poor soil and little water, making it a valuable plant for erosion control in arid regions.

Common Storksbill is an annual or biennial plant that grows up to 30 cm tall. The leaves are deeply lobed and are arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant. The flowers, which appear from April to July, are pink or lavender, with five petals and a distinctive beak-like structure that gives the plant its common name.

One of the key features of Common Storksbill is its ability to produce a large number of seeds, which are dispersed by wind and water. This allows the plant to quickly colonize disturbed areas and outcompete other plant species. However, despite its aggressive growth habit, Common Storksbill can also be a valuable plant for wildlife, providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.

In addition to its ecological benefits, Common Storksbill has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant contains a number of bioactive compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antimicrobial properties. In particular, extracts from the plant have been used to treat a range of conditions, including digestive disorders, skin diseases, and respiratory infections.

Overall, Common Storksbill is a hardy and adaptable plant that is well suited to surviving in difficult conditions. While it can be considered a weed in some areas, it is also an important part of many natural ecosystems and has a range of potential uses in both traditional medicine and modern agriculture.

Common Storksbill is a valuable plant in many ways. In addition to its medicinal uses and ecological benefits, it has also been used for food. The seeds of the plant can be eaten raw or roasted and have a nutty flavor. They are also a good source of protein and essential fatty acids.

Common Storksbill is also a popular plant for gardeners and landscapers, thanks to its attractive flowers and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. It is often used in rock gardens, as a ground cover, or in container gardens.

However, it is important to note that Common Storksbill can be an invasive species in some areas, particularly in parts of North America where it is not native. It can outcompete native plants and disrupt local ecosystems, so it is important to be aware of its potential impact and to manage its spread.

Common Storksbill is a fascinating plant that has a range of potential uses and benefits. Its ability to survive in harsh environments and provide valuable resources for wildlife, medicine, and food make it an important part of many ecosystems.

There are several other interesting facts about Common Storksbill worth mentioning. For example, the plant has a long history of use in folk medicine, with various cultures using it to treat everything from toothaches to snake bites. The seeds were even used by the ancient Egyptians to create a type of flour for making bread.

Common Storksbill is also known for its ability to absorb heavy metals from the soil, making it a potential candidate for phytoremediation – the use of plants to clean up polluted environments. Studies have shown that the plant can absorb and accumulate high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, making it a promising tool for cleaning up contaminated soils.

In addition, Common Storksbill has been the subject of scientific research for its potential as a source of natural insecticides. Compounds extracted from the plant have been shown to have insecticidal activity against a range of pests, making it a potential alternative to synthetic insecticides that can have negative environmental impacts.

Common Storksbill is a fascinating and versatile plant that has a range of potential uses and benefits. From its role in traditional medicine to its ability to clean up polluted soils and repel pests, this hardy and adaptable plant is a valuable part of many natural ecosystems and has much to offer for those interested in sustainable agriculture, ecology, and conservation.

Common Storksbill also has cultural significance in some parts of the world. For example, it is the national flower of Cyprus, where it is known as "Geranium rhodopaeum". The plant is also featured in the coat of arms of the Spanish city of San Pedro del Pinatar, where it is considered a symbol of the local ecology and natural heritage.

In addition to its cultural and ecological significance, Common Storksbill has played a role in scientific research as well. The plant has been studied for its potential to treat cancer, with extracts from the plant showing promising results in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in laboratory experiments.

The plant's ability to survive in harsh environments and its potential as a source of natural products has also made it of interest to researchers studying plant adaptation and evolution. For example, scientists have studied the genetics of Common Storksbill to understand how it has adapted to survive in arid environments and to identify genes involved in stress tolerance.

Overall, Common Storksbill is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history and a range of potential uses and benefits. Whether as a source of food, medicine, or ecological restoration, this hardy and adaptable plant is a valuable part of many natural ecosystems and has much to offer for those interested in sustainable agriculture, conservation, and scientific research.

One interesting feature of Common Storksbill is its ability to self-pollinate, which allows it to reproduce even in harsh or isolated environments where pollinators may be scarce. This ability, along with its hardy nature and adaptability, has made it a successful colonizer in many parts of the world.

Despite its ability to thrive in harsh conditions, Common Storksbill is also sensitive to changes in its environment, making it a useful indicator species for monitoring ecosystem health. For example, changes in the plant's abundance or distribution can be used to identify shifts in soil quality, water availability, or climate patterns.

In addition, Common Storksbill has been used in traditional ecological knowledge and land management practices. For example, Native American tribes in California and Oregon have used the plant as a food source, as well as for medicinal purposes and as a dye for textiles.

Overall, Common Storksbill is a fascinating and multifaceted plant with a range of uses and ecological significance. Whether as a symbol of cultural heritage, a source of natural products, or an indicator of ecosystem health, this hardy and adaptable plant has much to offer for those interested in the natural world and its many wonders.


Video 1: Common Storksbill filmed at Orford Castle, Suffolk on the 29th June 2022.


Music credits
Sneaky Snooper by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Video 2: Common Storksbill filmed at Formby, Lancashire on the 25th September 2022.


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