Oval Heron’s-bill (Erodium malacoides)

Oval Heron’s-bill (Erodium malacoides), a ‘mallow-leafed’ geranium native to the Mediterranean basin but spread to similar climates around the world as a contaminant of seed grain, nursery products and wool.

Like a number of other weed geraniums now established in Melbourne and Victoria, the Oval Heron’s-bill is adapted to grazing and seasonal disturbance that roughly match the contemporary patterns and impacts of mowing and other maintenance.

Thanks to some kind of nonsense with the scientific naming, the digitised herbarium records of this species in Australia are not easily searchable. The earliest Victorian records that I can locate are collections from 1882 along the upper Goulburn River. In Melbourne, the first records appear to be a 1919 collection from the ‘back yard’ of the Department of Agriculture’s Science Branch on Flinders Street, and a 1946 record from Williamstown. I assume that there are other records that have been eaten or mislaid by this classification issue. Given the ease with which I have seen it this spring, the species is likely to be more common than indicated by digital record display.

The photographed plants were found briefly rampant along a shared-use path on the west side of the lower Maribyrnong River, near Pipemakers Park, and within mown nature strips in the outer south-west.

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Search for information about Erodium malacoides in the Flora of Victoria

View information and occurrences of Erodium malacoides on the Atlas of Living Australia

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