Erodium cicutarium is described as an annual, winter annual or biennial. It has a prostrate basal rosette and upright, often leafy flowering stalks. The stalks range from < 10cm to about 50cm high, and originate in the axils of the leaves. The leaves are divided into fine leaflets (or lobes) and are finely dissected, similar to those of a carrot. The flowers are about 1cm across, pink or lavender, and borne on stalks in clusters of 2-12. The sepals of the flowers are somewhat pointed and hairy. The fruiting structure (consisting of the seeds, persistent bristly styles, and central placental axis) is 2-5cm long and resembles a stork's bill. At maturity, the developing fruit splits into 5 segments, each with a long, spirally twisting style with a seed attached at the base. The style twists hygroscopically, drilling the seed into the soil (The Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, 2001; Hickman, 1993).
Blackshaw et al. (2000) report that, \"In Canada, Erodium cicutarium has been present as a weed in farmyards and along roadsides for many years. Recent weed surveys indicate that it is increasing in occurrence and abundance on cropland ( Anonymous, 1992; Thomas et al., 1995).\" Blackshaw and Harker (1998) state that, \"E. cicutarium may be expected to be less prevalent and competitive with crops in very arid environments.\"
Griffith (1998) states that, \"Erodium cicutarium germinates early spring through late summer and flowers in early spring or early summer.\" Fedorenko et al. (1996) report that in Argentina, \"E. cicutarium can hasten their reproductive phase at the end of the growing season, a time when maximum air temperatures are high (35 °C) and soil water availability is reduced (e.g. precipitation during October and November was only 17% of that in July and September. This could be an important strategy in these species, allowing them to persist as seeds, and produce a new generation under favourable environmental conditions.\"
Howard (1992) reports that, \"Erodium cicutarium provides seasonal forage for rodents, desert tortoise, big game animals, and livestock. The seeds are eaten by upland game birds, songbirds, and rodents.\" Howard (1992) states that, \"The presence or absence of E. cicutarium pollen in fossil records, sediment lakebeds, and artifacts has been used as a dating technique in paleobotany and archeology.\"
Howard (1992) reports that, E. cicutarium besides being a pioneer on disturbed sites, is also a residual or secondary colonizer. Seedlings can either establish from on-site seed or from seed carried in by animals. In annual grassland communities, E. cicutarium a persistent ruderal can be intolerant of the mulch layer that builds up in some areas. E. cicutarium will tolerate partial shade, but vigor is reduced. Griffith (1998) adds that, \"E. cicutarium prefers dry, sandy soil, and is found in many perennial horticultural crops, turfgrass, and landscapes.\" It also grows readily on soils of less sandy texture. It occurs in great abundance throughout arid parts of California, including the Mojave Desert. According to Mensing and Byrne (1998), E. cicutarium was among the first invasive Eurasian plants to become naturalized in California. Blackshaw et al., (2000) report that in Canada, \"Weed surveys indicate that E. cicutarium has recently increased in distribution and abundance on cropland, especially in areas where conservation tillage has been adopted (Anonymous 1992 ; Thomas et al., 1995, in Blackshaw et al., 2000 ).\"
Howard (1992) states that, \"Erodium cicutarium reproduces sexually. Seasonal rains and soil temperatures trigger germination. Light rains result in lower germination rates than heavier rains. Plants are sexually mature 2 to 4 months following germination. Seed either falls beneath the parent plant or is disseminated by animals. Rodents frequently bury E. cicutarium seed in a food cache where unconsumed seed later germinates. Seed also catches on animal fur and is disseminated in that manner. Seeds of E. cicutarium can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks.\" Blackshaw and Harker (1998) state that, \"E. cicutarium germinates readily at soil temperatures of 5-20 °C ( Blackshaw, 1992) and optimum growth occurs at 15-25 °C ( Blackshaw & Entz, 1995).\"
Blackshaw and Harker (1998) state that, \"Increased competitive ability of Erodium cicutarium appeared to be related to increased rainfall during the growing season. Weed surveys in western Canada indicate that E. cicutarium occurs more frequently on irrigated cropland and in areas receiving greater than 500mm precipitation annually ( Anonymous, 1992, in Blackshaw and Harker 1998). Palaez et al. (1995, in Blackshaw and Harker 1998)) found that E. cicutarium exhibited more vigorous and productive growth under wet than dry conditions but that it could persist under drought stress.\" In one arid California grassland, Erodium cicutarium cover averaged 30-85% in growing seasons when precipitation totaled only 13.1-17.7cm (Kimball and Schiffman 2003).
Principal source: Erodium cicutarium (Howard, 1992)
Pest Management - Weeds - Stork's Bill (Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, 2001)
Compiler: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Review: Paula M. Schiffman, Department of Biology, California State University, Northridge
Publication date: 2005-12-30
Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2017) Species profile: Erodium cicutarium. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=518 on 23-10-2017.