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SPECIES:  Erodium cicutarium
Redstem stork's bill. Creative Commons image by Luigi Rignanese.



SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1992. Erodium cicutarium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 24 April 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: cutleaf filaree to: redstem stork's bill. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION : EROCIC SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY NRCS PLANT CODE : ERCI6 COMMON NAMES : redstem stork's bill cutleaf filaree purple filaree redstem filaree filaree alfileria pinclover pingrass cranesbill heronbill storksbill TAXONOMY : The scientific name of redstem stork's bill is Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. (Geraniaceae) [24,35,49]. Infrataxa are [49]: Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. ex Aiton subsp. bipinnatum Tourlet Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. ex Aiton subsp. cicutarium Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. ex Aiton subsp. jacquinianum (Fisch., C.A. Mey. & Ave-Lall.) Briq. LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Redstem stork's bill is distributed worldwide at latitudes below 70 degrees north and south.  It occurs in Eurasia, North America, South America, central and southern Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania [21]. In North America, redstem stork's bill is distributed across Canada and south to Baja California, Mexico [21,33].
Distribution of redstem stork's bill . Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, April 24] [49].

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES27  Redwood
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES31  Shinnery
   FRES32  Texas savanna
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES39  Prairie
   FRES40  Desert grasslands
   FRES42  Annual grasslands

     AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  HI
     ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  ME  MD  MA  MI
     MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY
     NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN
     TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC
     LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

   Found in most Kuchler Plant Associations

   Found in most SAF Cover Types


Redstem stork's bill occupies a variety of habitats, from desert to riparian
[23,25].  In riparian communities, it indicates recent or frequent
disturbances [29].  The largest North American redstem stork's bill
populations occur in California, where annual grasslands have replaced
historical perennial grasslands [20,47].  Redstem stork's bill has been
listed as a dominant community type (cts) in the following published

Area                      Classification              Authority
CA: Central Valley        annual grassland cts        Heady 1977


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Redstem stork's bill provides seasonal forage for rodents, desert tortoise, big game animals, and livestock [4,5,32,24,51].  The seeds are eaten by upland game birds, songbirds, and rodents [14,30,39]. PALATABILITY : The relish and degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife species for redstem stork's bill in California and Utah is rated as follows [14,42,51]:                                  CA       UT         Cattle                  good     fair         Sheep                   good     good         Horses                  ----     fair         Pronghorn               ----     good         Elk                     ----     good         Mule deer               good     good         Small mammals           good     fair         Small nongame birds     ----     fair         Waterfowl               ----     poor Redstem stork's bill seeds are highly palatable to rodents [30].  NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The food value of flowering redstem stork's bill in central Arizona is as follows [46]:                          Percent Composition                                        protein     17.10                                       fiber       17.80                                        calcium      2.54                                         phosphorus   0.51                                         potassium    3.56 The digestibility of redstem stork's bill for several animal species is rated as follows [36]:                           Percent Digestibility                          white-tailed deer   40.0                          cattle              12.4                          domestic goats      12.5                          horses              12.0                          domestic rabbits    11.9                          domestic sheep      12.9                                                         The seeds provide 5,505 calories per gram, or 8.92 calories per seed [40]. COVER VALUE : Redstem stork's bill generally provides poor cover [14].  One ecotype in Glenville, California, forms basal rosettes 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter, providing fair to good cover for small birds and mammals [28]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : The presence or absence of redstem stork's bill pollen in fossil records, sediment lakebeds, and artifacts has been used as a dating technique in paleobotany and archeology [12,16].  Redstem stork's bill was one of the first exotics to invade North America.  It was apparently introduced in California during the early 1700's by passing Spanish explorers [51]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range:  Redstem stork's bill is important forage for cattle, horses, and domestic sheep in California, Nevada, and Arizona [47].  Annual yields vary depending upon soil moisture.  Talbot and others [43] found that cover of redstem stork's bill in a Tehama County, California range fluctuated from 70 percent in 1934 to 30 percent in 1935, a drought year.  Other factors also affect the availability of redstem stork's bill.  The plant is sensitive to airborne pollutants, especially sulfur dioxide, which causes extensive leaf and stem burn.  Redstem stork's bill yields are reduced on some southern California and western Arizona ranges due to this problem [44].  Otherwise, redstem stork's bill has excellent range durability.  The plant is resilient under heavy grazing pressure.  When developing fruits are consumed by stock, the plant rapidly grows short, prostrate stems that produce new fruits.  These new stems and fruits are relatively inaccessible to stock, especially horses and cattle [22]. When most of the redstem stork's bill within a range assumes this growth form, the range is overgrazed.


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Redstem stork's bill is an exotic forb that may be cool- or warm-season, depending on climate [35,46].  The leaves of young plants form a basal rosette.  Older leaves grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long, becoming decumbent to prostrate.  The persistent styles of this plant are 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) long and coil together at maturity, enveloping the fruit at the base.  The fruit is a sharp-pointed, narrow capsule.  The slender taproot is about 3 inches (8 cm) long [16,37,47]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Therophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Redstem stork's bill reproduces sexually [35,47].  Germination is triggered by seasonal rains and soil temperatures that range between approximately 69 degrees Fahrenheit (21 deg C) during the day to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 deg C) at night [23].  Light rains result in lower germination rates than heavier rains [5].  When moist, the coiled styles enveloping the seed expand, uncoil, and drive the arrow-shaped fruit into the ground [16].  Seed can be driven as deep as 1 inch (2.5 cm), although seed buried less deeply is more likely to germinate [52].  Young and others [52] report an average germination success rate of 14 percent.  Plants are sexually mature 2 to 4 months following germination [19].  Seed either falls beneath the parent plant or is disseminated by animals. Rodents frequently bury redstem stork's bill seed in a food cache where unconsumed seed later germinates [30].  Seed also catches on animal fur and is disseminated in that manner [16].  Seeds of Erodium spp. can remain viable for many years, and form extensive seed banks [9]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Redstem stork's bill occupies a variety of different sites.  Site characteristics are as follows: Soil:  Redstem stork's bill grows in well-drained, clayey, loamy, or sandy soil.  Variations in soil pH have been reported from moderately acid in Tehema County, California to moderately alkaline in the Great Basin area of central Utah [5,7]. Climate:  Native to the Mediterranean area, redstem stork's bill flourishes in the semiarid climate of the Southwest and the Mediterranean climate of California [47].  It will tolerate a broad range of climates, however, including the tropical climate of Hawaii and the cold, rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest.  Redstem stork's bill can grow in areas that experience harsh, snowy winters because its short growing period allows it to complete its life cycle before the onset of freezing weather [18,21]. Elevation:  Redstem stork's bill occurs below 7,000 feet (2,134 m) [26]. Associated species:  The associated species of redstem stork's bill are too numerous to list because of its global distribution.  Since redstem stork's bill is mainly of interest as a range plant, the associated range species of redstem stork's bill in several western states are listed as follows: Arizona:  Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa and A. lentiformis), mustard (Cruciferae), foxtail chess (Bromus rubens), Mediterranean schismus (Schismum barbatus), canyon grape (Vitis arizonica), blue palo verde (Cercidium floridum) [8,48]. California:  Slender oat (Avena barbata), ripgut brome (B. rigidus), littlehead clover (Trifolium microcephalum), early filaree (Erodium obtusiplicatum) [6,48]. Idaho:  St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), downy brome (B. tectorum), rattlesnake brome (B. briziformis), rattail sixweeks grass (Vulpia myuros), western yarrow (Achillea millefolium), bigflower agosersis (Agosersis grandiflora), spur lupine (Lupinus laziflorus), autumn willow-weed (Epilobium paniculatum) [43,48]. Nevada:  Turpentine broom (Thamnosma montana), desert bitterbrush (Purshia glandulosa), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), foxtail chess, California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), desert needlegrass (Stipa speciosa) [1,48]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Redstem stork's bill is a pioneer on disturbed sites.  Wagner and others [50] reported that redstem stork's bill seedlings were the first to emerge on lands strip-mined for coal in New Mexico.  Redstem stork's bill may have been an initial colonizer in open areas of the Mojave Desert [51].  It is also a residual or a secondary colonizer, since seedlings can either establish from on-site seed or from seed carried in by animals [16].  In annual grassland communities, redstem stork's bill is an early- to mid-seral stage plant, being intolerant of the mulch layer that builds up in older communities [4].  Redstem stork's bill is replaced in annual grasslands by ripgut brome and slender wild oat.  Redstem stork's bill will tolerate partial shade, but vigor is reduced [2]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Seasonal development of redstem stork's bill varies depending upon climate. Plant germinate in late fall in California, Nevada, and Arizona but not start until midsummer of the following year in cold climates [5]. Plants in warm climates grow vigorously until winter, when growth slows. Vigorous growth resumes in the spring.  In cold climates, growth is continuous from spring or summer until plant death in early fall [47]. Gordon and Sampson [18] reported the following developmental data for redstem stork's bill in O'Neal, California:                        germination - November                        early leaf stage - December                        flowers in bloom - March                        seeds ripe - May                        seeds disseminated - June                        plant death - June                         


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Plant adaptations:  Seed driven into the soil by the styles is usually protected  from fire [52]. Fire ecology:  The prostrate stems of redstem stork's bill aid in spreading ground fire.  Dead plants contribute to fuel loads.  FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)    Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Moderate fire kills mature plants [20].  Grass fires are typically light to moderate, and very young seedlings can survive fires of that severity.  Dennis [13] found that newly germinated redstem stork's bill seedlings just beneath the litter layer were not harmed by a moderate grass fire in Mendocino National Forest, California.  Redstem stork's bill seed in the litter layer remains viable following light fire, and seed just under the litter layer remains viable following moderate fire. Severe fire will kill seed unless it is buried 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) or more deep [41,53]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : During the first postfire growing season, density of redstem stork's bill is reduced, but biomass increases [11].  Seed production is highest at postfire year 1, with redstem stork's bill populations peaking at postfire year 2.  Callison [10] reported redstem stork's bill as providing an absolute cover value of 0.2 percent in an unburned area in the Beaver Dam Mountains of southwestern Utah.  Following a prescribed burn, the cover value was 11.1 percent in the first postfire growing season, and 11.5 percent in the second.  Cover value declined from postfire year 3 and after.  By postfire year 12, redstem stork's bill was no longer visible in the plant community. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : After spring prescribed burning in a basin big sagebrush community in east-central Oregon, the number of viable redstem stork's bill seeds was significantly (P<0.1) reduced in burned soil samples compared to the number of viable seeds in unburned soil samples [54]. See the Research Project Summary of this work for more information on fire effects on redstem stork's bill and 60 additional forb, grass, and woody plant species. The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of redstem stork's bill and other plant species that was not available when this species review was written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Range:  Frequent prescribed burning favors redstem stork's bill and other forbs over annual grasses [5,20].  This is desirable when the climax grass provides poor forage, such as ripgut brome.  Grassland fire typically destroys very few seeds or other organic matter in the soil [20].  It does destroy the overlying mulch layer that inhibits germination of redstem stork's bill seeds [5,19].


SPECIES: Erodium cicutarium
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