by Kate Yturri, Judy Winer and Gwen Stamm
WSU Master Gardeners
Please be on the lookout for shiny geranium in your yard. This fast growing, small plant has been recently spotted on Orcas Island near the golf course and in Moran State Park. It is low growing and spreads quickly across a lawn, into ornamental beds and even potted plants. It has rounded, lobed shiny leaves, red stems and tiny pink or magenta flowers. It is often confused with dovefoot geranium, which has similar shaped leaves that are not shiny and stems that are green instead of red.
Shiny geranium reproduces by seed and has the capability to forcefully eject seeds when ripe. It is usually found in well-shaded woodlands and forest openings as well as in full to partial sun. Controlling it is difficult. Hand pulling alone is not successful. The application of a heavy layer of mulch usually works. Herbicides such as glyphosate and broadleaf specific triclopyr applied prior to blooming should be a last resort.
“Noxious weed” is the legal term for invasive plants that are so aggressive they harm our local ecosystems or disrupt agricultural production. Shiny geranium is Class A noxious weed in Washington, which means it is invasive but still not so widespread as to be impossible to eradicate. Noxious weed law in Washington requires that all property owners help prevent and control the spread of invasive plants. Eradication of all Class A weeds is required by law. Please attempt to remove this plant if you find it.
If you have questions about or need help identifying this plant, call Judy Jackson with San Juan County Noxious Weed Board at 376-3499.