A native species found across most of North American, this wild purple geranium was found growing close to our camp at Rose Mountain in the Pecos wilderness of New Mexico.
The wild geranium, a true geranium, received the added description ‘wild’ to distinguish it from the other plant we most often know as geranium, the pelargonium. The misnaming occurred back in the 18th century when our common garden geranium was first imported from South Africa to Europe.
Wild geraniums have two other common names, cranesbill and alumroot, names that hint at a personality that goes deeper than their surface beauty. The name cranesbill comes from the shape of the seed pods, which reminded some of a long crane's bill, though to my eyes they more closely resemble rockets. But there's more. This seed pod has an unusual way of broadcasting seeds. As the pods stretch and dry, they become like coiled springs and when the moment is right, the pods snap, firing the seeds as much as 30 ft, leaving behind the curled pod. And if that’s not dramatic enough, the seeds themselves have a tiny tail called an ‘awn’ which curls when dry and straightens when wet, causing a crawling affect. Biologists believe that this motion allows the seed to find its way to a hole or crevice where the motion then helps the seed plant itself and hide from birds and mammals that would make it into a meal.
Another flowering plant that is highly valued for medicinal purposes, the wild geranium’s roots contain a large amount of tannin, making it useful as an astringent and styptic. The plants leaves and roots are widely used to treat a multitude of ailments from diarrhea and hemorrhages to sore throats and toothaches.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.