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Bloody Cranesbill

This is not a common sight but most likely seen near to the coast in South and East Scotland, preferring chalky soils, rocky slopes and sand dunes.

It grows in bushy formation, either prostrate along the ground or ascending, with spreading hairy stems, branching near the top, and with tiny lance-shaped stipules in the junctions of the stem.

Leaves are very deeply cut into about 7 narrow segments, each segment having 3 lobes. The configuration brings to mind a snowflake. The leaves grow on long stalks or petioles. Lower leaves can appear rounder, or kidney-shaped but still with about 7 divisions. In autumn the leaves turn red, which is what the name, Sanguineum, or bloody, refers to.

It has a striking flower with violet-purple flowers which grow to 3cm in diameter, each flower growing on a single stem. The 5 petals are roundish, with slightly irregular margins at the tip and they overlap each other. 10 pale mauve stamens with blue anthers carry the pollen, and are visited by many pollinating insects including bees. The pistil is pinkish red, made up of 5 twisted carpels, and elongates during fruiting to look like a cranesbill, from where the genus derives its name.

The roots of the bloody cranesbill have in the past been used as a dye.

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