Plant of the Month: Sticky Purple Geranium (Geranium viscosissimum)

Sticky purple geranium or sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum) is protocarnivorous, meaning it has the ability to dissolve insects or other protein sources that land on their sticky leaves and become trapped. From these trapped insects the plant absorbs nitrogen. Protocarnivorous and carnivorous plants typically evolved in nutrient poor environments.

Sticky hairs cover the leaves and stems of the sticky purple geranium. The leaves are palmately lobed with 5 to 7 pointed lobes and are attached to the stem via long stocks. The flowers have five petals that range from a light purple-pink to a deep purple magenta with darker veins and long soft hairs near the base of the petals. The petals are slightly notched. The flowers grow in clusters of 2 or more, with the stem typically forking after the leaves.

Germination of the sticky purple geranium is low, but can be improved with scarification practices such as sanding the seed then soaking in water. Additionally, it may take up to three years for the flowers to become established. The sticky geranium is drought tolerant and grows in full sun to partial shade.

They are a perennial species that are native to Western United States, British Columbia, and southern Alberta found within the rose family (Rosaceae).

Sticky purple geranium has cultural significance to Indigenous peoples, including Sylix/Okanogan; Nlaka'pmx, Colville and Sanpoil; Blackfoot/Siksika. They used this flower for medicinal purposes, including encouraging blood clotting, treating colds and skin and eye conditions. The sticky purple geranium was also used as a food preservative. In European culture the geraniums were given as gifts to brides and to hosts.

Flies, butterflies, bees (solitary bees, bumble bees, and honey bees), wasps and true bugs have been associated with the sticky purple geranium. A correlation was found between a decline in sticky purple geraniums and a decline in pollinators, suggesting they play an important ecological role. The sticky purple geranium also acts as a food source to birds and mammals who eat their seeds and leaves.

Sticky purple geranium pictured from a top view

Posted on May 09, 2024 03:59 PM by kiarra13 kiarra13

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