The woodland native’s common name is logical when viewing the unopened seedpods that form the shape of a Crane’s bill which eventually snaps open to fling seeds up to six feet away; however adding some confusion is the fact that not all varieties produce such shaped seed pods. The flower goes through interesting changes as it matures eventually into its namesake seedpod.
This non-aggressive plant does slowly spread in size over time creating a ground cover which is slightly taller and a different leaf shape than traditionally thought of ground covers. Each leaf is deeply cleft into 3-5 palmate lobes. The white Cranesbill image shows this lacy delicate leaf as well as flower and bud. The image of an end-of-bloom purple variety does not show its leaves as it’s nestled in a patch of Pachysandra. I am indifferent to the sometimes strong fragrance from Cranesbill leaves, though some gardeners consider this trait a plus in their plot. This is said from a chronic allergy-ridden person who seeks to avoid breathing in any aroma, so consider this fact about myself before thinking ill of its scent.