Long Storksbill

Erodium botrys (Cav.) Bertol.

Family: - Geraniaceae.




Long Storksbill because the seed head looks like a stork's bill and it is longer than related species.

Other names:

Big Heron's-bill

Broadleaf Filaree




Longbeak Crowfoot

Wild Geranium.


A shiny, lobed leafed, flat-rosette forming, annual herb with 5 petalled, purple to blue flowers from August to October and sharp, corkscrew seeds. The flowers are in stalked clusters. There are 5 fertile stamens and 5 small antherless filaments. The style has 5 short lobes. The distinctive fruit is long, beak-like and splits into 5 fruitlets which, when mature, separate and twist so that each seed is attached to a spirally-twisted corkscrew-like awn. The fruits 90-120 mm long including the awn. It forms a ground hugging rosettes of leaves initially then produces sprawling stems the curve upwards near their ends.

Native to Europe or the Mediterranean region, they are now weeds of pasture, crops, wasteland and roadsides.



Two. Oval, multiple lobed, 8-12 mm long on a stalk 8-12 mm long. Base indented. Tip round. Leaf blade almost hairless, stalk is hairy.

The seedling has a very short hypocotyl and no epicotyl.

First leaves:

The leaves grow singly, and are oval, 8-12 mm long, lobed, veins impressed, tip round. A few, long hairs on top and edges. Short, stout hairs are on the underside especially on the veins. Long white hairs are on the top of the short leaf stalk.


Forms a rosette.

Stipules - Broadly egg shaped, 5 mm long. Hairy with tiny hairs on the edges.

Petiole - Lower ones are longer grading to none on the upper leaves. Hairs on the upper side in young leaves grading to hairs on the upper and lower surfaces in stem leaves.

Blade - Dark green, often shiny on top, egg shaped to oblong in outline, 35-100 mm long by 15-30 mm wide, somewhat leathery. Veins impressed. Deeply lobed (but not distinct leaflets) and the lobes are deeply divided again. Lobes have serrated or round toothed edges. Tip round. Scattered hairs on top, edges and on the veins on the lower surface. Older leaves often turn purple-red.

Stem leaves - About 60 mm long, more deeply lobed and more pointed than the rosette leaves and with sharply toothed lobes. Almost opposite. Hairy. Upper leaves have no stalk.


Prostrate, semi erect or bending upwards, round, solid, up to 600 mm long. Branched from the base. Scattered, white, stiff, long, simple, often curled hairs and shorter or tiny, glandular hairs underneath giving a sticky feel. Glandular hairs sparser on the towards the base of the stems and simple hairs sparser towards the tops of the stem.

Flower head:

Umbel of 1-3 flowers in clusters in leaf axils or at ends of branches. Flower stalks longer than the leaves at maturity. Common flower stalk (peduncle) up to 50 mm long and individual flowers on a 10-15 mm long stalk (pedicel), both densely covered with glandular hairs.


Bracts - Papery, free and hairy.

Ovary -

Sepals - Oblong to elliptical, 5-8 mm long when in flower and to 12-14 mm long when in fruit. Slightly shorter than the petals. Minute glandular hairs and long simple hairs especially along the nerves. Edges with tiny hairs.

Petals - 5, erect, pink to purple petals often with darker veins drying to blue, egg shaped, up to 15 mm long.

Stamens - 5 outer stamens (staminodes) scale like, triangular and without anthers. Filaments, free, may be toothed, narrowly egg shaped, broad at the base and awl shaped at the top.

Anthers -


5 sharp pointed fruitlets, hairy, 9-10 mm long with a 70-110 mm long beak that coils spirally as it dries and propels seed about 750 mm from parent in a sling shot action (Stamp, 1989). The beak has numerous bristles on the inner side.


Dark brown. 5-10 mm long by 1.5 mm wide and pointed with long, spreading simple hairs and a deep, hairless pit, with 2-3 concentric folds on each side of the base of the awn. Corkscrew awn remains attached to help bury the seed by straightening when moist and coiling as it dries.



Key Characters:

Rosette leaves dark shiny green. Leaves do not have distinct leaflets. Cotyledons are multiple lobed. Beak is 70-100 mm long. 5 stamens and 5 staminodes.


Life cycle:

Annual. Germinates mainly in autumn and early winter but will also germinate in spring or even summer in moist or irrigated areas. Flowers mainly spring.



By seed.

Flowering times:

August to October in SA.

Spring in NSW.

August to September in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

The corkscrew awn propels the seed up to 750 mm form the parent plant and helps bury the seed by straightening when moist and coiling as it dries.

The sharp and barbed seed readily attaches to wool and animals for transport.

Origin and History:




Widespread throughout Tasmania but less common than E. moschatum and E. cicutarium.



Temperate. Mediterranean.


Prefers loams to heavy soils but still common on some sandy soils.

Long storksbill tends to predominate on low P soils and capeweed on high P soils.

Plant Associations:



Fodder but relatively unpalatable.


Weed of crops, cultivation, pastures, wet areas and disturbed areas.

Causes injury to stock and damages hides.

Causes injury to shearers and sheep handlers.

Contaminates wool.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:

Tends to build up under heavy grazing. Spray grazing, pasture manipulation and spray topping can reduce infestation levels in pastures.

Tends to build up under zero tillage cropping systems.


Eradication strategies:

Preventing seed set for 2-3 years will result in very low populations.

Manual removal and cultivation are effective but time consuming.

Hormone herbicides provide good control of young plants. It is relatively tolerant to glyphosate. Spray.Seed® at 2 L/ha provides good non selective control. Lower rates of 1 L/ha Spray.Seed applied at flowering reduces seed set.

In bushland situations, 2,4-DB(400g/L) at 4 L/ha (80 mL in 10 L water) or Lontrel®750 at 120 g/ha (2 g in 10 L water for spot sprays) applied before flowering provides reasonably selective control. For highly selective control, use Verdict®520 at 100 mL/ha plus oil (2 mL plus 100 mL oil in 10 L water for hand sprays) on actively growing seedlings before flowering.

Replanting tall growing and scrub species, to increase levels of shade, and reducing grazing will help prevent reinfestation.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Blue Storksbill (E. cygnorum) (a native weed of horticulture in Manjimup) is very similar but has sky blue flowers and palmately lobed leaves.

Common Storksbill (E. cicutarium) is similar but the leaves are divided to the mid rib and are not dark-shiny green, it has smaller flowers and fruit and the cotyledons are not multiple lobed and are more deeply lobed.

Heronsbill (E. brachycarpum) is very similar but has a shorter beak on the green seed.

Musky Storksbill (E. moschatum) is similar but the rosette leaves are divided to the mid rib and are not dark-shiny green, it has smaller flowers and fruit, the beak on the seed is shorter and the cotyledons are not multiple lobed.

Oval Heronsbill (E. malacoides)

Native species of Geraniaceae have broader leaves which are palmately divided (like a hand).

Plants of similar appearance:

Capeweed, Turnips, Radish and Mustard.


Stamp, N.E, (1989). Seed dispersal of four sympatric grassland annual species of Erodium. Journal of Ecology, 77:1005-1020.

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Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #521.1.

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