A native perennial, sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) grows in open woods and meadows between 3,300 and 8,200 feet in the western portions of the United States and Canada. This specimen was photographed in Dan Ryan Meadow along Ash Creek (Modoc County CA) in June.
Although the flowers and leaves of sticky geranium are edible, their astringency and texture are unappealing. Wildlife, however, finds sticky geranium most palatable with elk, deer, bear and small mammals foraging the leaves. Birds and small mammals eat the seeds.
Native Americans used a sticky geranium leaf poultice or infusion to treat insect bites and rashes. The powdered root was used to stop bleeding. Modern day herbalists use this member of the Geranium Family (Geraniaceae) to treat diarrhea and other gastric or urinary irritations.
Sticky geranium has one to a few stems growing from a caudex (root stock). The mostly basal leaves have long stalks and are deeply palmately lobed with 5 to 7 sharply toothed divisions.
The dark-veined, pink to rose purple flowers occur in an open cluster at the top of the stem. The plant is arranged in fives – 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 (or 10) stamens and a 5-lobed pistil with 5 styles fused to a central column. Five distinct stigmas top the column. The inner surfaces of the rounded and slightly notched petals are pilose (hairy). Sticky geranium fruits are capsules.
Sticky geraniums are also protocarnivorous. More about that in my next post.