Cranesbill Root, American

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Cranesbill Root, American

Botanical Name: Geranium maculatum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Geraniaceae

Synonyms: Alum Root. Spotted Cranesbill. Wild Cranesbill. Storksbill. Alum Bloom. Wild Geranium. Chocolate Flower. Crowfoot. Dove's-foot. Old Maid's Nightcap. Shameface.
Parts Used: Dried rhizome, leaves.
Habitat: Flourishes in low grounds and woods from Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Georgia, Missouri and in Europe.

Description: A perennial, grows from 1 to 2 feet high. The entire plant is erect and unbranched, more or less covered with hairs; the leaves deeply parted, each division again cleft and toothed, flowering April to June, colour pale to rosy purple, petals veined and woolly at base, fruit a beaked capsule, divided into five cells, each cell containing one seed, the root stocks 2 to 4 inches long thick with numerous branches for the next growth, outside brown, white and fleshy inside when fresh, when dried it turns to a darkish purple inside; no odour, taste strongly astringent, contains much tannin which is most active just before the plant flowers. This is the time the root should be collected for drying.

Constituents: Tannic and gallic acid, also starch, sugar, gum, pectin and colouring matter.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Styptic, astringent, tonic. Used for piles and internalbleeding. Excellent as an injection for flooding and leucorrhoea, and taken internally for diarrhoea, children's cholera, chronic dysentery; a good gargle.

The leaves are also used and give the greatest percentage of tannin and should be collected before the plant seeds.

Dosages: 15 to 30 grains. Infusion, 1 OZ. herb to 1 pint water. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Geranin, 1 to 3 grains.

Other Species:
The English herb Geranium dissectum has similar properties.