Skip to Content
Return to Home Page
Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Filarees  (Erodium spp.)

Click on images to enlarge 

Life stages of Filarees filaree seedling mature red stem red stem filaree fruit whitestem filaree seeds whitestem filaree (left) redstem filaree (right)

Filaree plants are low-growing, common winter annual and sometimes biennial broadleaves. Broadleaf, E. botrys,  and whitestem, E. moschatum,  filaree are found throughout California, except in deserts and the Great Basin to about 3300 feet (1000 m) and 5000 feet (1500 m), respectively. Redstem filaree, E. cicutarium, is found throughout California to about 6600 feet (2000 m). These filaree species inhabit agricultural land and other disturbed areas.


Roadsides, pastures, grassland, rangeland, agronomic and vegetable crop fields, orchards, vineyards, landscaped areas, and other open disturbed and unmanaged sites.


Seedlings are hairy with either glandular or nonglandular hairs. Cotyledons (seed leaves) have long stalks. Broadleaf and redstem filaree cotyledons are egg shaped with three to four asymmetric lobes that are broadly rounded. First and subsequent leaves of broadleaf filaree are egg shaped with round-toothed to more-or-less shallow-lobed edges, whereas those of redstem filaree are deeply lobed or divided. Whitestem filaree cotyledons have five deeply asymmetric lobes.

Young plant

Leaves form a rosette close to the ground.

Mature plant

Depending on the species, stems grow from spreading to more-or-less erect and reach 2 to 3 feet (0.6–1 m) in height or length. The leaves distinguish the three species. Rosette leaves of whitestem and redstem filaree are fully divided into leaflets, but whitestem leaflets are less deeply cut than those of redstem filaree. Rosette leaves of broadleaf filaree are lobed, but not fully divided into leaflets. In addition, stems of whitestem filaree are pale and redstem filaree stems are often reddish.


Flowers cluster at the top of the flowering stalk and resemble ornamental geranium flowers. Each flower has five, separate pink to reddish-lavender petals.


The long and needlelike immature fruit resemble a stork's head and beak. At maturity the fruit separates into five parts, each having a tail that eventually coils as the seed matures and dries.


The seed body is lance shaped and hairy with a slender attachment (style) that coils and, midway up, curves sharply to form a right angle. The coils tighten in dry conditions and loosen in humid conditions, which acts to drill the seed into the soil.


Reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • White stem filaree, Erodium moschatum
  • Redstem filaree, Erodium circutarium
  • Broadleaf filaree, Erodium botyrs

More information