Herbs & Plants

American Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)

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Botanical Name : Geranium maculatum
Family:    Geraniaceae
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Geraniales
Genus:    Geranium
Species:    G. maculatum

Popular Name(s): Alumroot, Storksbill, Wild Geranium

Common Names: Spotted Cranesbill, Spotted geranium, Crowfoot, Wild Geranium, Cranesbill

Other Names: Alumroot, storksbill, spotted geranium, wild geranium, wild cranesbill, spotted cranesbill, alum bloom, crowfoot, dove’s foot, old maid’s nightcap, shameface, tormentil.
Flowers: April – June
Parts Used: Root & rhizome
Habitat: Geranium maculatum  is native to Canada and Eastern United States; Maine to Georgia; Arkansas and Kansas to Manitoba. It grows  on  wet places in woods, wet rocks and in swamps. Woodlands, thickets and meadows.

Description & Identification:: American Cranesbill is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 60 cm tall, producing upright usually unbranched stems and flowers in spring to early summer. The leaves are palmately lobed with five or seven deeply cut lobes, 10–12.5 cm broad, with a petiole up to 30 cm long arising from the rootstock. They are deeply parted into three or five divisions, each of which is again cleft and toothed. The flowers are 2.5–4 cm diameter, with five rose-purple, pale or violet-purple (rarely white) petals and ten stamens; they appear from April to June in loose clusters of two to five at the top of the stems. The fruit capsule, which springs open when ripe, consists of five cells each containing one seed joined to a long beak-like column 2–3 cm long (resembling a crane’s bill) produced from the center of the old flower. The rhizome is long, and 5 to 10 cm thick, with numerous branches. The rhizomes are covered with scars, showing the remains of stems of previous years growth. When dry it has a somewhat purplish color internally. Plants go dormant in early summer after seed is ripe and dispersed.

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The stem is erect and unbranched, the leaves 5-parted, deeply divided, and toothed.
The 5-petaled pink to purple flowers grow in pairs on axillary peduncles. Distinct “crane’s bill” in center of flower enlarges into seedpod, divided into five cells with a seed in each cell.

History: Native Americans used a decoction of Wild Grape and Cranesbill as a mouthwash for children with thrush. Once used to stop bleeding, diarrhea, dysentery, relieve piles, hum diseases, kidney and stomach ailments. Powdered root applied to canker sores. Externally, used as a folk remedy for cancer.

Constituents: 12-25% tannins including gallic acid, with the level being highest just before flowering.

Medicinal Properties & Uses:

Astringent, antihaemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, styptic, tonic, vulnerary.Cranesbill reduces inflammation in peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers, enteritis, and bowel disease and is gentle enough for children and the elderly. It is also used to treat melaena, menorrhagia (blood loss during menstruation), and metrorrhagia (uterine hemorrhage). As a douche, it can be used in leucorrhoea.

An effective astringent used in diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhoids. When bleeding accompanies duodenal or gastric ulceration, this remedy is used in combination with other relevent herbs.
The powdered root is an effective blood coagulant and can be used to stem external bleeding.
Combinations: In peptic ulcers it may be used with Meadowsweet, Comfrey, Marshmallow, or Agrimony. In leucorrhoea it can be combined with Trillium.

Preparation & Dosages:
Decoction – Put 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the root in a cup of cold water and bring to boiling. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Root Tincture – [1:5, 45% alcohol], 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, up to 3 times a day.
Liquid Extract – [1:1, 45% alcohol], 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, up to 3 times a day.

The herb is often prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome and hemorrhoids, and it is used to staunch wounds.  It may also be used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding and excessive vaginal discharge.  As a douche it can be used in leucorrhea.  Its powerful astringent action is used in secondary dysentery, diarrhea, and infantile cholera (Boil with milk to which a little cinnamon has been added and the milk cooked down to half its liquid volume.).  Troublesome bleeding from the nose, wounds or small vessels, and from the extraction of teeth may be checked effectively by applying the powder to the bleeding orifice and, if possible, covering with a compress of cotton.  For Diabetes and Brights disease a decoction taken internally has proven effective of Unicorn root and Cranesbill.   One of the safest and most effective astringent herbs for gastrointestinal problems.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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