Sunday, October 26, 2014

Geranium molle, Dove's Foot Cranesbill

Geranium molle (Geraniaceae)
 Dove's Foot Cranesbill
The appearance of this weed had me fooled into thinking it was a seedling G. sanguineum as the leaves are remarkably similar to that species. It came up first in a hanging basket which had contained one and also in the garden. For a moment I thought I was on to a sure fire winner with possibly a new and different flower colour. However as soon as it flowered I knew it was a weed species and a quick check of an ID book confirmed it as this species of European origin which is said to only make a rare appearance in gardens and is of no significance. It gets my vote as the most clever weed of the year looking as it does like a respectable garden perennial and able to grow cherished until maturity when its true identity was revealed.
Like many weeds it has an ancient and useful herbal remedy past. The famous astrologer-physician of the early 17th Century, Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) probably had it in his medical practice in Red Lion Street, Spitalfields in London in 1640 where he recommended it be applied directly to 'green wounds' ulcers and sores as it 'healeth them quickly'; and for use in a 'decoction in wine' for internal hurts and bruises or to relieve joint-ache.
Published by W Foulsham & Co., LTD
Slough, Bucks, England

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