Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker - Stork's Bill Flower Fairy

"Good morning, Mr Grasshopper!
Please stay and talk a bit!"
"Why yes, you pretty fairy;
Upon this grass I'll sit.
And let us ask some riddles;
They're better fun than chat:
Why am I like the Stork's-Bill?
Come, can you answer that?"

"Oh no, you clever Grasshopper!
I fear I am a dunce;
I cannot guess the answer
I give up at once!"
"When children think they've caught me,
I'm gone, with leap and hop;
And when they gather Stork's-Bill,
Why, all the pedals drop!"



Stork's Bill

(Erodium cicutarium)


Stork's Bill is a miniature member of the geranium family that enjoys desert, mesa, rangeland, open meadow, newly tilled ground, & prairie conditions, but is not restricted to these environments as it is highly adaptable.

Usually prostrate, it is generally no taller than three to six inches, with each leaf up to ten inches long radiating to dinner-plate size from the center, or creeping amidst other small weeds. Under some conditions they do mound upward to a bushier form to ten inches or a foot. The leaves are surprisingly attractive, very feather-like, resembling fern fronds. It might actually be mistaken for a desert fern except that the tiny one-fourth-inch pink-violet flowers eventually give it away as a wild herb.

Such a widespread weed quite naturally picks up many common names. "Pin Clover" arises from it being as invasive as clover & having pin-like seedpods, hence also the name "Pin Grass" for appearing with its pin-like seeds in grassy meadows & roadsides. These fruits are more often likened to long bird-bills, hence the widespread name Stork's-bill, occasionally Heron's-bill.

It first came to the Americas with the Spaniards. The seeds, having corkscrew-tails to them, attached to animals' fur & to the feathers of migratory birds, so that the weed preceded Europeans into as yet unexplored regions. Late in the 1800s when alfalfa was commonly imported from Arabic nations, alfalfa bales were invariably mixed with stork's bill, further spreading the seeds of the flower.

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