Not All Flowers Are Sweet: Pollinators Love This Pretty Weed, But Your Yard Won't

As spring gradually rolls into summer, you may notice short purple or pink flowers spreading across your lawn. Though they may look beautiful and delicate, redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium), also known as stork's bill, is an aggressive, invasive weed that could take over your yard. On one hand, pollinators such as butterflies, beetles, moths, and bees love this weed as a source of nectar and pollen, but allowing stork's bill to grow in your yard could lead to issues. Additionally, it may not have the sweetest smell.

The redstem filaree plant is native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe, though it now grows throughout a large portion of North America as well. This weed is part of the geranium family and blossoms with flowers that have five petals, with leaves that can be somewhat fuzzy and fern-like. Its flowers will eventually turn into long fruits that will spread the seeds. Before this happens, you'll want to dig up this invasive weed to prevent it from taking over.

How redstem filaree can wreak havoc on your yard

Despite its innocent, pretty appearance, stork's bill is a hardy plant that can handle all kinds of different environments and soils. This allows it to persist as a non-native plant and continue spreading. Because it tends to stay rather low to the ground, redstem filaree could stop more beneficial, native plants from growing, including ones that would be better for pollinators. Once the flowers begin to transform into fruit, one stork's bill can put out between 2,000 and 10,000 seeds, spreading some of them far and wide across your yard.

This could begin to overtake your grass, and even if the seeds don't grow into plants right away, they can stay in the soil for years before growing, making them a threat in the future. Even worse, because the seeds can travel so far, they may end up in your garden, smothering out your produce and flowers. Though these are sneaky weeds that'll wreak havoc on your lawn, you can help stop them from spreading before they become a real problem.

Controlling stork's bill weeds in your yard

The best way to ensure that this pesky weed doesn't crowd out your grass or other plants is by removing it by hand before it starts shooting out seeds. When you notice that the cute pinkish flowers begin to fade away and the plant starts to resemble a stork's bill, you'll know it's the best time to get rid of the weeds. This tends to happen in the spring, so you'll want to keep an eye on your yard to see when the plant starts changing. 

You can simply pull the weeds right out of the soil to start getting rid of them, though it's crucial to do this before the seeds are released. Mulch can also be helpful in controlling the redstem filaree. Cover the area where the weeds were pulled with several inches of bark, straw, mulch, or grass clippings. This can help prevent more stork's bill from popping up again.