Cranesbill Geranium maculatum L. Geraniaceae, Geranium family.
Other Common Names: Wild geranium, Alum Root, Crowfoot, Stork's Bill, Dove's Foot, Old Maid's Night-Cap, Shameface.
Wild Geranium is found in moist, wooded areas, from Eastern Canada south to Missouri and Georgia.
This attractive woodland plant attains a height of two feet, with soft, hairy leaves palmately dissected into three- to five-toothed lobes. It is the shape of the leaves that give the plant the name crowfoot. The name dove's-foot probably originated in England where a plant of a different species than our Wild Geranium, but with similar appearance and properties is also called dove's-foot. The delicately veined, five-petaled, blushing pink to rose-purple flowers, which bloom from April to June, give the plant its name of shameface. The shape of the slightly wilted blossom, when held upside down, somewhat resembles a lady's old-fashioned sleeping bonnet and probably accounts for the name old maid's night-cap.
As spring moves into summer, the flower forms into a five-sectioned, beaked seed capsule from which the names crane's-bill and stork's-bill is derived,.
Wild Geranium is most known and valued for its astringent properties. The word "astringent" comes from the Latin astringere, "to bind fast," and refers to the ability of the substance top draw together or tighten soft organic tissue. Alum, an aluminum sulfate compound, has been tried for its astrinency. Wild Geranium, with its hig tannin content, got the name alum root from astringent properties similar to alum. However, the plant contains no appreciable amount of aluminum or sulfur, and cannot be substituted for the chemical alum and used as a mordant in vegetable dying.
Wild Geranium is recommended in combination with a small amount of cayenne pepper to tone and reactivate the weakened stomach of hard drinkers. It can also be used. as a styptic, i.e. an astringent aimed at stopping bleeding, for all kinds of hemorrhages from simple nose bleeds to piles, or for more serious internal bleeding. It is administered in the form of a liquid extract or an infusion of the root.
The rootstock is up to six inches long, bearing numerous knobs out of which smaller rootlets grow. The fact that Wild Geranium is a perennial is evident from the stem scars showing previous years' growth, and the bud forming at the base of the present year's stem. When fresh, the root is light brown externally and inside is light-colored and somewhat fleshy. When dried, it turns hard and wrinkled with a grey-purple color inside. It has been found that the tannin content in Wild Geranium is highest just before the plant flowers, so it is best gathered for herbal use in the spring rather than the fall, as is the case with most other roots.
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Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
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