Saturday, October 29, 2016

A heavenly Storksbill...Erodium absinthoides ssp. ?

 Mike Kintgen first obtained this from Robin Parer's amazing Geraniaceae (she doesn't list it right now) and Denver Botanic Gardens has been trying to determine how to propagate it (perhaps for Plant Select?)...but right now, you can see this most amazing storksbill blooming its head off still in late October in the Steppe Garden...this isn't just the best storksbill--it's one of the best compact perennials I've ever grwn. Just had to share!

Sorry the right hand flower is out of focus, Michael McLaughlin! (He's my focus guru)--but this gives you a better glimpse...

I just took this a few minutes ago in MY garden, showing you the foliage...

More on the Steppe Garden...

Perhaps this gets the impact best?

 I can't get enough of it!

With a glimmer of backlight in my home garden a few minutes ago...

And this is what it looked like seven months earlier in April (it's been blooming nonstop by the way) in Mike Kintgen's amazing front garden:

Ta DA!

Why "?"--we got it as ssp. amanum. There is also a ssp. armenum. Other specimens under this name are pale pinks and whites--we have never determined where this wonderful purple form originated. Please let me know if YOU know!


  1. This is a form of Erodium absinthoides subspecies armenum. They vary in colour, see Click on individual photos to enlarge. Other subspecies of Erodium absinthoides can be pink or white.

    Erodium absinthoides is widespread but the subspecies armenum comes from the area east of Lake Van in Turkey then onward into Armenia. Usually the plants found in cultivation are male. Erodium absinthoides and other species of Erodium in the Balkans, Turkey and further east are usually dioecious,(the plants are either male or female) although the occasional hermaphrodite does turn up now and then.

    Erodium amanum,sometimes referred to erroneously as E. absinthoides subspecies amanum, is a white flowered species from the Amanus Mountains that are situated in Southern Turkey and Northern Syria. The two areas seem to be confused with each other although there is a considerable distance between them.

    Propagation of this blue Erodium can be done from top cuttings,the percentage rooting is low in my experience. The use of some sort of mist propagation should help increase the percentage of cuttings that form roots, this should be done early in the year, just when the first signs of growth appear. Trying root cuttings did not work for me at all.
    Many years ago John Whittlesey at Canyon Creek Nursery in Northern California said he had around a hundred plants, propagated by himself. John gave up the nursery in favour of Garden Design, Landscaping and he recently became an author. John's propagation of this plant was excellent.

    I'm not too sure about your common name, it should be a Heron's Bill not Stork's Bill. The names Erodium, Geranium and Pelargonium are based on Greek names for the birds their seed pods resemble. The Cranesbill come from the Greek "Geranos" for a crane, hence Geranium. Pelargos is the Greek word for Stork, giving us Pelargonium, the "Stork's Bill". Finally, the Greek for Heron is Erodos, giving us Erodium and "Heron's Bill". If you look at the Genus, then the Greek root will give you the correct common name.

    Congratulations on such a wonderful planting of this highly sought after Erodium, a true horticultural treasure.

  2. Thank you Allan! What a wonderful note from you--I am very grateful for it. I posted a link on my facebook page, and John Beaulieu in Canada posted pictures of both male and female flowers--he's apparently growing it there. WE have likewise had problems with cuttings, although a friend in Michigan had better luck. We've been propagating through tissue culture. Not consistently however: we'd like to "get it out there" since it's a superb garden plant here in Denver, blooming for seven or eight months. I appreciate the clarification from you--and it brought back wonderful memories of a visit we had many years ago at Wisley! Delighted to be in contact once again.


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