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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Whitestem filaree  (Erodium moschatum )

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Life stages of Whitestem filaree Whitestem filaree seedling Leaf, flower, and seed pods Leaves of whitestem filaree (left) and redstem filaree (right) seeds

Whitestem filaree is a low growing, common winter annual and sometimes biennial broadleaf. Except for deserts and the Great Basin, it is found throughout California, to about 4900 feet (1500 m). Whitestem filaree inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed areas. It is a winter host of beet leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus, and is susceptible to the beet western yellows and soybean dwarf viruses.


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


Seedlings may have glandular hairs or nonglandular hairs. Cotyledons (seed leaves) have five deep asymmetric lobes, and/or are fully subdivided with lateral lobes that taper to a point. They have long stalks. The first and subsequent few leaves are deeply lobed to fully divided.

Young plant

Leaves form a rosette close to ground.

Mature plant

Mature plants may reach 3-1/3 feet (1 m) and range from spreading to more or less erect over open ground. Rosette leaves are stalked, composed of egg-shaped leaflets with toothed to shallow-lobed edges. Stem leaves resemble rosette leaves; leaves are short stalked to nearly stalkless. Upper stem portions generally have glandular hairs. The three species of filaree can be distinguished by their leaves. Rosette leaves of both whitestem and redstem filaree are fully divided into leaflets. Rosette leaves of broadleaf filaree are lobed, but not fully divided into leaflets as are their stem leaves. Whitestem filaree leaflets are less deeply cut than those of redstem filaree and stems of whitestem filaree are pale, stems of redstem filaree are often reddish, and the lower stem portion of broadleaf filaree is coarsely hairy.


Flowers bloom from February through May (sometimes earlier or later). Flowers cluster at the top of the flowering stalk. There are about six to thirteen flowers per cluster. Each flower has five, 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 tiny, lance shaped, hairy, and brown, with a long, slender attachment (style) that coils several times in the lower portion and midway curves sharply to form a right angle. The coils tighten in dry conditions and loosen in humid conditions and this action drills the seed into the soil. Overall the entire seed structure ranges from 1 inch to over 2 inches (2.4–4.6 cm) in length.


Reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • Filarees, Erodium sp.
  • Redstem filaree, Erodium circutarium
  • Broadleaf filaree, Erodium botyrs

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