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storksbill weed seed

Storksbill weed seed

These two species, Erodium cicutarium and Erodium moschatum, are similar in appearance and can easily be confused.

  • Both are annual members of the geranium family (Geraniaceae)
  • Both are rosette type plants with small, serrated, oval leaflets arranged in pairs along the stem (pinnate)
  • Soon after flowering the distinctive seed head appears, which resembles the long, pointed beak of a stork for which the plant is named
  • The seed has a very long appendage, essentially an uncoiled spring, which in a hot sunny day can flick the seed more than a metre away from the parent plant
  • Storksbills have very distinctive cotyledons, shaped like a guitar with one side offset.

Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium) is usually the smaller of the two species and is also more widespread. It is a weed of arable land, poor pasture, dry tussock and grassland, and is found in drier coastal and lowland areas of both the North and South Islands and the Chathams.

  • Often tinged red due to nutrient or moisture stress
  • Leaves are up to 15 cm long and consist of up to eight pairs of oval leaflets with blunt teeth to highly dissected edges
  • Flowers are pinkish-purple, with three dark purple veins and about 12-14 mm diameter with five distinct petals
  • Flowers are clustered in five-twelve-flowered umbels and appear from September to May.

Musky storksbill (Erodium moschatum) grows in wetter, more fertile locations especially dairy pastures.

Storksbill (Erodium Species

There are three Erodiums that occur in Tasmania as widespread weeds.

Common Storksbill: Erodium cicutarium

Growth Habit: A prostrate to semi-erect plant with stems produced both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 70 cm in height.

Type of Plant: An annual herb.

Photo: (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 8 to 12 mm in diameter and are pinkish/ purple in colour.

Fruit. Photo: (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak 3-5cm long. Seeds are ejected explosively from the ripened seedpods.

Seed (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed. Autumn is the main germination time in waste areas and established pasture. In crops germination commonly occurs in spring and through summer where moisture is available.

Dispersal: Seed can be spread on animal fur, in contaminated grain, hay, straw, manure, and on farm machinery. Seeds can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks in the soil.

Distribution: Common Storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places. It is one of Tasmanias most widespread weeds.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring.

Long Storksbill: Erodium botrys

Erodium botrys. Photo: (c) Javier Martin

Growth Habit: A semi-erect plant which stems both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 50 cm in height. The flowers and fruit are larger on this species than the other storksbill species listed here.

Type of Plant: An annual herb.

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 12 to 18 mm in diameter and are lilac in colour often displaying darker veins.

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak 8 – 11 cm long.

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed. Seed can be spread on animal fur, in contaminated grain, hay, straw, manure, and on farm machinery. Germination occurs in autumn. In crops germination commonly occurs in spring and through summer where moisture is available.

Distribution: Long storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places. More common in the southern parts of Tasmania than the north.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring if present in large numbers.

Musk Storksbill: Erodium moschatum

Photo: (c) Eugene Zelenko CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Growth Habit: A semi-erect plant which stems both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 1m in height.

Type of Plant: An annual or biennial herb.

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 10 to 15 mm in diameter and are pinkish/ purple in colour.

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak.

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed with germination in autumn.

Distribution: Musk storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring.
  • Can be a problem to newly planted lucerne.
  • Has the ability to overwhelm a crop.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.