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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

20 February, 2017

Round-leaved Cranesbill: to round it all off

Members of the geranium family, cranesbills get their name from the long pointed seed box that recalls the bill of the long-legged and long-billed bird, the crane. My field guide lists sixteen species of cranesbill and a further four of the similar storksbills and that presents quite a choice to the new botanist. As always in these situations the task is never quite as daunting as it might seem as not all occur in Dorset and some are quite rare and unlikely to be encountered without a specific search for them
The round-leaved cranesbill (Geranium rotundifolium) does not occur across all of the United Kingdom but it does occur frequently in Dorset. It is quite common on hedge banks and in other grassy places where the grass is not too dominant and allows flowers to come through. The clue to identification does lie in the common name; it is round leaved. The leaf is not actually truly round, it is lobed having five separate lobes joined for about half way along the edge of each so the leaves are 'roundish!'. However, amongst cranesbills this leaf formation is unique, most are serrated or, at least, lobed but not joined. The nearest similar species would be the hedgerow cranesbill but this is a much bigger plant with bluer flowers, has seven leaf lobes and is quite downy.
Geraniums are popular garden plants and the round-leaved cranesbill is one of those that adorn cottage gardens. As a result, you may encounter it as a garden escape in other locations than its preferred habitat and it does seem to be spreading its range.
Round-leaved Cranesbill: to round it all off