A Flower a Day for January: Cranesbill
January 7, 2012
Because we need flowers in January.
One of my favorite things about Michigan in Pictures is that sometimes I learn things that I really am not intending to learn. Such is the case today when I picked my favorite of Joel’s photos to highlight this year’s edition of his perennial feature, A Flower a Day for January. Joel started this in January of 2006, and every day he posts another flower to his flickr photostream.
The Wikipedia entry for Geranium sanguineum explains that it’s the county flower of Northumberland, commonly called Bloody Cranesbill or Bloody Geranium. The Geranium entry says that the genus name is derived from the Greek géranos meaning crane) and has a note:
The genus name is derived from the Greek γέρανος, géranos (meaning crane). The English name “cranesbill” derives from the appearance of the fruit capsule of some of the species. Species in the Geranium genus have a distinctive mechanism for seed dispersal. This consists of a beak-like column which springs open when ripe and casts the seeds some distance. The fruit capsule consists of five cells each containing one seed, joined to a column produced from the centre of the old flower. The common name cranesbill comes from the shape of the un-sprung column, which in some species is long and looks like the bill of a crane. Many species in this genus do not have a long beak-like column.
…Confusingly, “geranium” is also the common name of members of the genus Pelargonium (commonly known as ‘storksbill’ in distinction from ‘cranesbill’), which are also in the Geraniaceae family. Linnaeus (Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus) originally included all the species in one genus, Geranium, but they were later separated into two genera by Charles L’Héritier in 1789.