Geranium Pratense

Some Interesting Facts about Geranium Pratense

Geraniums are a very popular flower for people around the world to have in their gardens, but many are drawn to the geranium pratense variety.  They might believe that the look of the flower is why they prefer it over other geranium varieties, but it could be more than that.  Geraniums have a long history and a great deal of folklore features the pratense variety.  Believe it or not, you could be enjoying the history of this kind of geranium just as much as its beauty!

When gardeners select flowers for their flowerbeds, they often select them for their fragrance, beauty or function.  Some gardeners are so passionate about their flowers and what they plant, they go a step further and discover that some of their favorite plants actually have quite an extensive history and can serve more than a decorative purpose.  A little bit of time and research can show that the geranium pratense is no exception!

If you aren’t familiar with the geranium flower, you can find a number of varieties and hybrids.  You might be looking for a particular color, but if you want to find both beauty and history combined into one plant as well as a history of medicinal use, you want to take a look at the pratense.

The geranium pratense flower is a wonderfully rich shade of blue with dainty violet veins that lead to the center of the blossom.  There are typically seven to nine lobes in each blossom and they range from three to six inches wide.

If a particular gardener happens to be a fan of birds, he or she might want to consider creating a garden with a number of the flowers named for the crow.  In fact, they would have a huge selection of flowers because the crow has had more plants named after it than any other bird.  There are the Lots cornicalatus or Crow Toes, the Blue-bell and Daffodil or Crow Bells and the Coronopus or Crow Foot of Doscorides.  The name “pratense” was given to this geranium flower as it means “Crowfoot Crane’s Bill.”

Crowfoot Crane’s Bill has only been recorded as having been grown in Europe before making its way to the New World, but many believe it was being used in ancient Roman times as well.  The records throughout Europe show it as having had many different names over the years including “Herb Robert” in the United Kingdom, “Robin des bois” in France and “Ruprechts-kraut” in Germany.

Folklore throughout Europe has Geranium pratense connected with magical activity!  Stories of wood-sprites and elves live around and use this wonderfully colorful blossom in their mischief.  In fact, some stories claim that a delightful sprite name Kobin Goodfellow is the owner of all the pratense blossoms!  Because it grows so well wherever it takes root, legend has it that only a playful sprite would find humor in growing such a wonderful blossom on roofs and aging walls.

The pratense plant also has a history of being used for medicinal purposes.  During Victorian times, people would use the astringent form of the plant to help alleviate diarrhea.  It was also found to be useful in children who were suffering during teething.  While there is no record of the apothecary who first started using and prescribing the pratense variety, it is mentioned as being recommended to treat wounds by herbalist Leonhard Fuchs.

Today the Geranium pratense is mainly used in gardens and as a source for blue dye.  While it may no longer be the inspiration for fairy tales and herbal remedies, it is a beautiful plant that offers a lovely flower and a rich history to any garden.