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The plant may be considered invasive in multiple states, each depending on the growth and distribution of the plant. In Kentucky, New York, and Illinois Carolina Carolina Cranesbilloris considered invasive because it grows rampantly, and can smother desirable plants. It is self-seeding and can survive being transplanted from one location to another in cultivation.Carolina Geranium is a native herb found in eastern North America and all areas of NC in the cranesbill family. It is a multi-branched and sprawling pubescent annual or biennial, usually growing no taller than 1 ft. It prefers dry gravelly, sandy to clay sites in partial shade to full sun in fields of woods.
Carolina Cranesbill can turn a brilliant red at maturity, especially the fruits but the leaves can turn as well. Minnesota has three small flowered Geranium species with deeply lobed, palmate leaves that can be difficult to distinguish at first glance. Native Carolina Cranesbill can be distinguished from the others primarily by its 2 nearly stalkless flowers per leaf axil, crowding at the end of a branch and later appearing as a flat cluster. The non-native Siberian Cranesbill (Geranium sibiricum) almost always has single, long-stalked flowers per leaf axil and its leaf lobes are broadly elliptic and sharply pointed, where the lobes of G. carolinianum are narrower and more fan-like with blunt or rounded tips. The native Bicknell's Cranesbill (G. bicknellii) also has 2 flowers per stalk but they are more spread out along the upper branch axils and are always long stalked. Distribution range can also be a good indicator. With only a few exceptions, in Minnesota G. carolinianum is almost exclusively found in the western and southern prairie regions, especially in and around rock outcrops along the Minnesota River valley. G. bicknellii is predominantly found in northern boreal forests where it responds to disturbances in forest openings, including lumbering and fire.Carolina cranesbill is a much-branched and sprawling, pubescent annual or biennial, usually no taller than 1 ft. Leaves are palmately five-parted, these divisions being cleft or lobed again. Five-petaled, pale pink or white flowers occur in loose terminal clusters.
The preference is full or partial sun, and dry conditions. The Carolina Cranesbill prefers poor soil that is gravelly, sandy, or contains hardpan clay, as this reduces competition from other plants. It develops rapidly from seed and may reseed itself aggressively in sterile areas with little vegetation. Soil with a high pH is tolerated. The Carolina Cranesbill is smaller and less showy than the native woodland species, Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium). It is similar in appearance to several other annual Geranium spp. from Europe, all of them rather weedy plants. One distinctive characteristic of the Carolina Cranesbill is the shortness of the pedicels (flowering stalks), which are less than half as long as the sepals of the flowers. Thus, the flowers of this plant occur in rather tight clusters. The leaves are also more likely to have secondary lobes, and they are quite large in relation to the overall size of this plant. A similar native species, Geranium bicknellii (Northern Cranesbill), has a more northern distribution. This plant has deep pink flowers, and the beak-shaped fruit has a longer awn at its apex than the corresponding fruit of the Carolina Cranesbill. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)