Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Read any wildflower manual and you will learn that storksbill favors sunny, dry areas and is most often found in sandy soil, in sparsely vegetated fields or in overgrazed pastures.  This explains why storksbill is abundant in the "lawn areas" of our Littleton, Colorado, farm.

Indeed, the numerous pink-purple flowers, reddish stems and fern-like leaves of this mat-producing wildflower currently adorn the farm.  Native to Eurasia and first introduced by Spanish explorers in the Desert Southwest., this plant (often classified as a weed) can be found in all States except Florida and is hardy enough to colonize parts of Alaska, Canada and Greenland.  Named for its needle-like seed pods, storksbill is also known as cranesbill or heronbill in some regions.  Small flies and bees pollinate the showy, five-petaled flowers, cottontails and various herbivores (including livestock) graze on its foliage and both songbirds and small rodents feed on its abundant crop of seeds.

Fortunately, storksbill fills in the numerous gaps in our "lawns" and adds both greenery and floral color to the semiarid landscape (no watering needed!).  It may be a "weed" but the residents of our farm, myself included, appreciate its presence.