Storksbill (Erodium Species

Erodium cicutarium. Photo: (c) Franco Folini CC-BY-2.0 license


Family: Geraniaceae

There are three Erodiums that occur in Tasmania as widespread weeds.


Common Storksbill: Erodium cicutarium

Growth Habit: A prostrate to semi-erect plant with stems produced both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 70 cm in height.

Type of Plant: An annual herb.

Photo: (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 8 to 12 mm in diameter and are pinkish/ purple in colour.

Fruit. Photo: (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak 3-5cm long. Seeds are ejected explosively from the ripened seedpods.

Seed (c) Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 license

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed. Autumn is the main germination time in waste areas and established pasture.  In crops germination commonly occurs in spring and through summer where moisture is available.

Dispersal: Seed can be spread on animal fur, in contaminated grain, hay, straw, manure, and on farm machinery. Seeds can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks in the soil.

Distribution: Common Storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places. It is one of Tasmanias most widespread weeds. 

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring.

Long Storksbill: Erodium botrys

Erodium botrys. Photo: (c) Javier Martin

Growth Habit: A semi-erect plant which stems both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 50 cm in height. The flowers and fruit are larger on this species than the other storksbill species listed here.

Type of Plant: An annual herb.

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 12 to 18 mm in diameter and are lilac in colour often displaying darker veins.

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak 8 – 11 cm long.

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed.  Seed can be spread on animal fur, in contaminated grain, hay, straw, manure, and on farm machinery. Germination occurs in autumn. In crops germination commonly occurs in spring and through summer where moisture is available.

Distribution: Long storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places. More common in the southern parts of Tasmania than the north.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring if present in large numbers.

Musk Storksbill: Erodium moschatum

Photo: (c) Eugene Zelenko CC BY-SA 4.0 license

Growth Habit: A semi-erect plant which stems both from the base and along the length of the plant. It has a hairy and circular stem and the plant can reach 1m in height.

Type of Plant: An annual or biennial herb.

Flowers: The five petalled flowers measure at about 10 to 15 mm in diameter and are pinkish/ purple in colour.

Fruit/Seed: The fruit has a beak.

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed with germination in autumn.

Distribution: Musk storksbill can be found in cultivated ground, arable crops, pastures, roadsides and waste places.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania

Weed Impact:

  • It competes strongly with pastures in the spring.
  • Can be a problem to newly planted lucerne.
  • Has the ability to overwhelm a crop.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.
 


Control Methods:

  • Improved pasture. The establishment of a vigorous pasture will help control the weed.
  • Herbicide (autumn). Spot spray for smaller patches and boom spray for larger areas. Herbicides registered in Tasmania include 2,4-D, MCPA and glyphosate.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.