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Erodium malacoides
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Geraniales
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Erodium

See text

  • Erodion St.-Lag.
  • Myrrhina Rupr.
  • Ramphocarpus Neck.

Erodium is a genus of flowering plants in the botanical family Geraniaceae. The genus includes about 60 species, native to North Africa, Indomalaya, the Middle East, and Australia. They are perennials, annuals, or subshrubs, with five-petalled flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple, that strongly resemble the better-known Geranium (cranesbill).[1] Cultivated plants are known as filarees or heron's bill in North America, whereas in the British Isles they are usually called storksbills.


Carl Linnaeus grouped in the same genus (Geranium), the three similar genera Erodium, Geranium, and Pelargonium. The distinction between them was made by Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle based on the number of stamens or anthers: five for Erodium,[2] seven for Pelargonium, and ten for Geranium.[2] However, the three genera have the same characteristics in regard to their fruit, which resemble long bird beaks. That characteristic is the basis for the names: Geranium evokes the crane (Greek geranos), Pelargonium the stork (pelargos), and Erodium the heron (erodios).


In cultivation, erodiums are usually seen in rockeries or alpine gardens.[1]

The hybrid cultivar E. × variabile 'Roseum' (E. corsicum × E. reichardii), a compact, spreading perennial with rose-pink flowers in summer, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3]


Erodium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the pasture day moth.


Fruit of Erodium ciconium
Erodium lebelii
Erodium glandulosum - MHNT

As of July 2020, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families accepts 119 species:[4]

Hybrids include:


Species such as E. cicutarium and E. moschatum are edible.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  2. ^ a b Parnell, J. and Curtis. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  3. ^ "Erodium × variabile 'Roseum'". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Erodium L'Hér. ex Aiton". Plants of the World Online.
  5. ^ Nyerges, Christopher (2016). Foraging Wild Edible Plants of North America: More than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Nature's Edibles. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4930-1499-6.

Further reading[edit]