T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Erodium moschatum (Musky storkbill)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Geraniales
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Erodium
Species: E. moschatum
Binomial name: Erodium moschatum
Common name: Musky storkbill, Whitestem filaree, Musk storkbill, Musky stork's bill

Erodium moschatum is a low-growing, cool season, weedy, annual or biennial herb which is native to much of Eurasia and North Africa but can now be found on most continents where it is an introduced species. It inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed areas through out New Zealand. This species of Erodium tends to grow in more fertile conditions than the other two species found in New Zealand (Erodium circutarium, Erodium botyrs).

The juvenile plant starts as a flat, spreading rosette of compound leaves, each leaf is up to 15 centimeters long with many oval-shaped highly lobed and toothed leaflets along a white, hairy, central vein. 
Mature plants may reach 0.5 m in height and range from spreading to more or less erect over open ground. The stems of Erodium moschatum are pale in colour and the stems leaves resemble the rosettes leaves but they are short stalked to nearly stalkless. They give off a slight musky odour when crushed.

Flowers develop as a cluster at the top of a flowering stalk. There are about six to thirteen flowers per cluster. The small, hermaphrodite flowers have five sepals behind five purple or lavender petals, each petal just over a centimetre long. They are pollinated by insects. They are pollinated by insects.
Erodium moschatum long and needle like immature fruit resemble a stork's head and beak. They have a small, glandular body with a long green style up to 4 centimeters in length. At maturity the fruit separates into five parts, each having a tail that eventually coils as the seed matures and dries. Seed launch is accomplished using a spring mechanism powered by shape changes as the fruits dry. The spiral shape of the awn can unwind during daily changes in humidity, leading to self-burial of the seeds once they are on the ground. Overall the entire seed structure ranges from 2.4–4.6 cm in length.












  




Seed head.