Geranium maculatum

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"Old Maid's Nightcap" redirects here. For other uses, see Old Maid (disambiguation).
"Wood Geranium" redirects here. Not to be confused with Wood Cranesbill or Woodland Geranium, G. sylvaticum.
Geranium maculatum
Geranium maculatum Leatherwood Lake.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Geraniales
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Geranium
Species: G. maculatum
Binomial name
Geranium maculatum

Geranium maculatum, the spotted geranium, wood geranium, or wild geranium is a woodland perennial plant native to eastern North America, from southern Manitoba and southwestern Quebec south to Alabama and Georgia and west to Oklahoma and South Dakota.[1][2] It is known as Spotted Cranesbill or Wild Cranesbill in Europe, but the Wood Cranesbill is another plant, the related G. sylvatium (a European native called "Woodland Geranium" in North America). Colloquial names are Alum Root, Alum Bloom and Old Maid's Nightcap.

Flowers in late spring.

It grows in dry to moist woods and is normally abundant when found. It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 60 cm tall, producing upright usually unbranched stems and flowers in spring to early summer. The leaves are palmately lobed with five or seven deeply cut lobes, 10–12.5 cm broad, with a petiole up to 30 cm long arising from the rootstock. They are deeply parted into three or five divisions, each of which is again cleft and toothed. The flowers are 2.5–4 cm diameter, with five rose-purple, pale or violet-purple (rarely white) petals and ten stamens; they appear from April to June in loose clusters of two to five at the top of the stems. The fruit capsule, which springs open when ripe, consists of five cells each containing one seed joined to a long beak-like column 2–3 cm long (resembling a crane's bill) produced from the center of the old flower. The rhizome is long, and 5 to 10 cm thick, with numerous branches. The rhizomes are covered with scars, showing the remains of stems of previous years growth. When dry it has a somewhat purplish color internally. Plants go dormant in early summer after seed is ripe and dispersed.[2][3][4]

The plant has been used in herbal medicine, and is also grown as a garden plant. Wild Geranium is considered an astringent, a substance that causes contraction of the tissues and stops bleeding. The Mesquakie Indians brewed a root tea for toothache and for painful nerves and mashed the roots for treating hemorrhoids.[5]


  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Geranium maculatum
  2. ^ a b BorealForest: Geranium maculatum
  3. ^ Missouriplants: Geranium maculatum
  4. ^ Gleason, H. A. (1952). The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, Vol. 2, page 457. Hafner Press, New York. 63-16478.
  5. ^ Plants for a Future: Geranium maculatum

External links[edit]

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: Geranium maculatum