Meadow crane’s-bill (Geranium pratense) is one of the most spectacular plants on the coast near St. Monans. It is a plant of flower-rich grasslands and meadows, rare habitats now in Fife and the rest of the country. We are lucky to have these strips of lovely grassland along the length of the Fife Coastal Path.
The second part of Meadow crane’s-bill’s name comes from its seed-head. It does look a bit like the head of a crane, a huge bird that was hunted to extinction in Britain more than 400 years ago (now making a come-back!). You can see the long, pointed seed-heads in these photographs.
The flowers are blue-violet and sometimes seem to glow. The pale streaks on the petals act as guides for insects, leading them to the nectar and pollen at the centre of the flowers.
The plants might look delicate but they are really incredibly tough. When the leaves die back in winter, the plant underground can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Centigrade – less surprising when you find out that this crane’s-bill originates from the Altai Mountains and is found throughout Europe and Asia.
Meadow crane’s-bill makes a great garden plant, it is a perennial and can grow into clumps more than a metre wide. But please don’t take any plants from the wild. You can find it in many varieties at garden centres and you can easily buy seeds on-line 🙂
Senior Ranger Jan Hendry