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Sticky Purple Geranium

Geranium viscosissimum var. incisum


Sticky purple geranium is a native perennial forb that grows to 40 to 90 cm tall. It has sticky glandular hairs that densely cover the stems and leaves. Leaves are basal, on long stalks and have blades 5 to 12 cm wide. The leaves are deeply palmately lobed into 5 to 7 sharply toothed divisions. Flowers are 2.5 cm wide, occur in open clusters near the top, and have 5 petals. Petals are pinkish-lavender to deep purple-magenta with purple veins and soft hairs on the lower half. Seed capsules are elongated, glandular and hairy, with a long beak shaped like a stork’s or crane’s bill. The genus Geranium is derived from the Greek word geranos, which means crane (Parish et al 1996).


Spotted in a moist area near small creek with grasses and other wildflowers. Open with plenty of sun. Surrounding area is sagebrush steppe. Habitat: Sticky purple geranium is found in foothills, canyons, open woodlands to montane environments. It is often associated with subalpine, coniferous forest, aspen forest, meadow, mountain brush and shrub steppe plant communities (Mee et al 2003).


Sticky purple geranium has an interesting feature of being protocarnivorous; it is able to dissolve protein, such as insects, that become trapped on its leaf surface and absorb the nitrogen derived from the protein (Spomer 1999). Many plants with sticky leaf surfaces have evolved to have this characteristic in order to thrive in nutrient-poor environments (Larcher 2003). The roots and leaves of sticky purple geranium were used by the Blackfeet, Okanagan, Colville, Sanpoil, Nlaka’pmx and other Native American tribes. Medicinal uses included a cold remedy, a dermatological aid, and treatment for sore eyes. It was also used to make a love potion and as a food preservative (Native American Ethnobotany Database 2010; Parish et al 1996). Herbalists apply it to cuts to help blood clotting or use it internally to stop bleeding (Parish et al 1996).

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Spotted by

Washington, USA

Spotted on Jun 23, 2018
Submitted on Jul 14, 2018

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