Geranium robertianum

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Geranium robertianum
Herb-Robert 800.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Geraniales
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Geranium
G. robertianum
Binomial name
Geranium robertianum

Robertiella robertiana

Geranium robertianum, commonly known as herb-Robert,[1] or (in North America) Roberts geranium, is a common species of cranesbill native to Europe and parts of Asia, and North Africa.[2] The plant has many vernacular names, including red robin, death come quickly, fox geranium, stinking Bob, squinter-pip (Shropshire) and crow's foot.


It grows as a procumbent (prostrate or trailing) to erect annual or biennial plant, up to fifty centimetres high, producing small, pink, five-petalled flowers (8–14 mm in diameter)[3] from April until the autumn. The leaves are deeply dissected, ternate to palmate,[3][4]: 174  the stems reddish and prominently hairy; the leaves also turn red at the end of the flowering season.


Its main area of distribution is Europe from the north Mediterranean coast to the Baltic and from the British Isles in the west to the Caucasus in the east, and eastern North America.[5] In western North America, it has escaped from cultivation and is regarded as an invasive species.[6] Geranium robertianum is common throughout Great Britain and Ireland in woodland, hedgerows, scree and maritime shingle.[3] It grows at altitudes from sea level to 710 metres (2,329 ft) in Teesdale, England and above 2,100 metres (6,890 ft) in parts of mainland Europe on calcareous alpine screes.[7]


Herb Robert has been used in the folk medicine of several countries, including as a treatment for diarrhea, to improve functioning of the liver and gallbladder,[8] for toothache and nosebleeds,[9] and as a vulnerary (used for or useful in healing wounds).[10] Its common name has several possible sources: the Latin word for red, ruber; Shakespearean character Robin Goodfellow, the mischievous hobgoblin in A Midsummer Night's Dream; an early duke of Normandy named Robert who is rumored to have commissioned the Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum; or abbot and herbalist Robert of Molesme.[11] [12] Freshly picked leaves have an odor resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes.[10]

The active ingredients are tannins, a bitter compound called geraniin, and essential oils.[citation needed]


  1. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ Kartesz, J.T. "BONAP's Taxonomic Data Center (TDC): North American Vascular Flora". The Biota Of North America Program. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Stace, C. A. (2010), New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.), Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, p. 348, ISBN 9780521707725
  4. ^ Blamey, M.; Fitter, R.; Fitter, A (2003), Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora., London: A & C Black, ISBN 978-1408179505
  5. ^ "Geranium robertianum L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Herb Robert identification and control: Geranium robertianum - King County".
  7. ^ Tofts, R.J. (2004), "Biological flora of the British isles No. 234 Geranium robertianum L", Journal of Ecology, 92 (3): 537–555, doi:10.1111/j.0022-0477.2004.00892.x
  8. ^ "Herb Robert: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning". Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  9. ^ Foster, Steven (2006), Desk Reference To Nature's Medicine, Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, pp. 210–11, ISBN 0-7922-3666-1
  10. ^ a b Milliken, W.; Bridgewater, S. (2004), Flora Celtica, Edinburgh, U.K.: Birlinn Ltd., p. 221, ISBN 1841583030
  11. ^ Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum), 2011, retrieved 12 June 2022
  12. ^ Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum), retrieved 12 June 2022


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