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Publication #SP 37

Carolina Geranium, Geranium carolinianum L.1

D. W. Hall, V. V. Vandiver and J. A. Ferrell2


Common Name: Carolina Geranium

Scientific Name: Geranium carolinianum L.

Family: Geraniaceae, Geranium Family


The stems are brown to pink, with a dense cover of short, downwardly-directed hairs (Figure 1). The cotyledon blades are rounded and broadly flattened at the apex. The flattened tip is slightly indented with the midvein extended into the notch as a small ridge. The upper surface is green while the lower surface is tinged pink, and both sides are hairy. The leaves develop alternately.

Figure 1. 

Seedling, Carolina Geranium, Geranium carolinianum L.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Mature Plant

Carolina Geranium is an annual, much-branched plant forming a circular growth pattern from the center of the plant, and may be ascending to erect (to 0.6 m tall from a tap root) (Figure 2). The leaves are up to 7 cm wide and are suborbicular to kidney shaped in outline, deeply divided into 5-7 divisions and lobed. This plant has leaves at the base and on the stem, which may be either oppositely or alternately arranged on petioles of variable length. The flowers usually occur in pairs or in compact clusters. The 5 sepals are up to 7 mm long with a 1-2 mm long tip (mucro). The 5 petals range in color from pale pink to pale purple. Each flower usually produces 5 seeds. The seeds are enclosed in a 5-lobed capsule with a 13-15 mm long central "beak." On maturation, the capsule springs open from the base and the five divisions curve upward elastically, frequently dispersing the seeds for considerable distances. The seeds are about 2 mm long and are prominently veined in a rectangular pattern and oblong in shape.

Figure 2. 

Mature plant, Carolina Geranium, Geranium carolinianum L.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


The genus name Geranium is an old Greek name derived from the word for crane. The long beak of the fruit was thought to resemble the beak of that bird. The species name carolinianum is a Latinized English word, which means "of Carolina" and refers to the origin of the first named collection.


This weed occurs in disturbed areas, gardens, cultivated fields, pastures, roadsides and waste places throughout Florida, the United States, southern British Columbia and Ontario, the West Indies and Mexico.


The seeds are eaten by birds and rodents. The seeds are reported to have astringent, febrifuge, diuretic and nephritic properties.



This document is SP 37, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date May 1991. Revised February 2006. Reviewed January 2012. Visit the EDIS website at


David W. Hall, former extension botanist, Herbarium, Florida Museum of Natural History; Vernon V. Vandiver, associate professor emeritus, Agronomy Department; Jason A. Ferrell, assistant professor, Agronomy Department; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.