Dove’s Foot Geranium – Geranium Molle
I hadn’t met this plant until 2012 and now I seem to have it everywhere in the garden. It seems like a very friendly plant with incredibly soft grey-green leaves reflected in its name molle (Lat) for softly-hairy, that are round and dissected into lobes which
go about a quarter of the way towards the stalk. It has pretty pink flowers in pairs, each about 1cm in diameter and these are followed by fruits with a long beak that looks like a cranesbill. Its name Geranium is Greek for cranesbill. Dove’s foot geranium is an annual, grows in a rosette, is semi-prostrate, but can reach up to 30cm tall when in flower. Run your fingers up the stem which can be a reddish colour and you’ll feel the long soft white hairs growing there. The whole plant seems to be inviting us to touch it and feel its softness.
This plant likes to grow in lawns, cultivated areas, waste places and open pastures. It can grow in the sun but also likes shady places. I have them under a korokia hedge and in a south facing bed that gets no sun during winter.
I haven’t found the exact nutritional qualities for Dove’s Foot Geranium yet but I am including the leaves in my smoothies as I know they will contain minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre, and chlorophyll without knowing the specific makeup of this plant.
In my research I looked up Wikipedia and came across this excerpt from Nicholas Culpeper written in 1652 about the healing qualities of Dove’s Foot Geranium which are substantial. I added the words in italics. What an amazing plant!
“It is found by experience to be singularly good for wind cholic, as also to expel the stone and gravel in the kidneys. The decoction thereof in wine, is an excellent good cure for those that have inward wounds, hurts, or bruises, both to stay the bleeding, (astringent qualities) to dissolve and expel the congealed blood, and to heal the parts, as also to cleanse and heal outward sores, ulcers and fistulas; and for green wounds, many do only bruise the herb, and apply it to the places, and it heals them quickly (vulnerary qualities). The same decoction in wine fomented to any place pained with the gout, or to joint-aches, or pains of the sinews, gives much ease (anodyne qualities). The powder or decoction of the herb sinews, gives much ease. The powder or decoction of the herb taken for some time together, is found by experience to be singularly good for ruptures and burstings in people, either young or old.”
Culpeper, Nicholas, The English physitian: or an astrologo-physical discourse of the vulgar herbs of this nation. London : Peter Cole, 1652