Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Among the many woodland-dwelling plants blooming now in our Shade Border is the native wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). Several clumps can be seen there and identified by their pale or deep-pink flowers peering over finely cut, light-green foliage.
In the wild, this species is commonly found in wooded places across much of eastern North America, and might even turn up as a welcome volunteer in gardens.
The summer bedding plant commonly called a geranium is related but is actually a separate genus (Pelargonium), and originates from South Africa. The wild geranium is grouped with other winter-hardy species, mainly from Europe and North America. By the way, if you are in the neighborhood and would like to learn more about Pelargonium species and hybrids, you might like attend our Scented Geranium Day, on July 8.
They are called “hardy geraniums” or “cranesbills” because of the bill-like shape of their seedheads, which appear shortly after flowering. Geranium comes from the ancient Greek geranos, a crane.