Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Erodium cicutarium - Common stork's-bill

Family: Geraniaceae (Geranium) [E-flora]

Subtaxa Present in B.C.

"Erodium cicutarium is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It is in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, beetles, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]

"General: Annual herb from a taproot; stems decumbent to erect, spreading-hairy, reddish with swollen nodes, 3-40 cm tall." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Basal leaves pinnately divided with narrow incised segments, oblong in outline, stiff-hairy, 3-10 cm long; stem leaves similar, few, opposite, reduced upwards; stipules abruptly pointed." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: Inflorescence of few, small, axillary, umbrella-shaped clusters of flowers; petals pink to purple, sometimes whitish, 3-8 mm long, the claw fringed with long hairs; sepals slightly shorter than the petals, bristle-tipped to awned with a fringed claw." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Carpels, spindle-shaped, sharp-pointed at the base; styles long-beaked, 3-4 cm long, twisting at maturity; seeds 1 per segment, glabrous." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range

"Mesic to dry fields, woodlands and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in SW and SC BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa, the Himalayas and Japan" [PFAF]

"Filaree (Erodium circutarium and moschatum) prefers disturbed areas such as soil that has been recently cleared. It is also found in fields and lawns. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region."[Nyerges]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

In the past the plant was widely used but its current use is limited (Khalmatov 1964 ).[Eisenman MPCA]

Documented effects:


The herb contains bitters, 2.1 % resins, tannins, acetylcholine, 55 mg% carotene, up to 4.94 % sugar, 1.9 % general titratable organic acids, 37.5–91.85 mg% vitamin C, and 0.64 mg% vitamin K, and 12–14 % ash, which includes up to 47 % K2O (Akopov 1981 ) . The aboveground parts contain a variety of tannins and fl avonoids (geraniin, didehydrogeraniin, corilagin, rutin, hyperin, quercetin, isoquercitrin, kaempferol, myricetin, polyphenolic acids, etc.) (Fecka and Cisowski 2005 ) . [Eisenman MPCA]

Common Stork's-Bill – Erodium cicutarium

Part: Greens Per 100 g fresh weight
Water (g) 90 Thiamine (mg) - Magnesium (mg) -
Protein (g) 2.3 Riboflavin (mg) - Calcium (mg) 237
Fat (g) - Niacin (mg) - Phosphorus (mg) 49
Crude Fiber (g) 1.6 Vitamin A (RE) 700 Iron (mg) -


"Prefers a sunny well-drained position and a limy soil or at least one that is not acid[1]. Plants are likely to be resistant to maritime exposure[K]." [PFAF]

"Filaree is sometimes cultivated as a forage plant, and is an important winter range plant in parts of the west. It is easily grown from seed or cuttings, and does well in most soil types. It naturalizes so readily it can easily become a weed." [Tozer UWP]

"The mature fruit splits into five beautiful spiral seeds, which unwind when wet and can actually screw themselves into the ground. They aren't of any use (they are sharp and can be quite painful) but they are amazing." [Tozer UWP]

[MushCult Stamets]


"Seed - sow in situ as soon as the seed is ripe in the late summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring[1]. Germination usually takes place within 3 weeks[200]." [PFAF] Abundantly propagates by seeds. [Eisenman MPCA]



  1. [E-flora] Erodium cicutarium Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia, Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2013. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia ( Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 1.[IFBC] Illustrated Flora of B.C., 1998-2002 Douglas, G.W., G.B. Straley, D.V. Meidinger, and J. Pojar (Editors)
  2. [PFAF] Erodium cicutarium, Plants For A Future,, U.K, Accessed May 11, 2014; Accessed June 3, 2021

Erodium Sp. - Storksbill

"Annual, perennial herb. Leaf: simple to pinnately compound, cauline opposite; blade lanceolate to reniform in outline, puberulent or short-hairy, base cordate to truncate. Inflorescence: umbel. Flower: radial; stamens 5, free, alternate 5 scale-like staminodes. Fruit: mericarp body indehiscent, fusiform, 1-seeded, base sharply pointed, top generally with 1 pit on each side of beak segment, pits subtended by 1–4 ridges or not; beak segments stiffly hairy adaxially, generally twisted.
± 74 species: temperate America, Eurasia, northern Africa, Australia. (Greek: heron, from bill-like fruit) [Fiz et al. 2006 Syst Bot 31:739–763] Some cultivated for forage, dyes; "beak segments" sometimes called "awns" elsewhere. Erodium macrophyllum moved to genus California." [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Erodium cicutarium - Common stork's-bill [E-flora]

It is uncertain whether other species of Erodium are edible, thus experimentation is not recommended. [Vizgirdas WPSN]

"E. moschatum is an important winter and spring forage crop for live- stock in the northeastern United States and parts of Canada." [Nyerges]


Page last modified on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 8:31 PM