T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Geraniales
Family: Geraniaceae
Genus: Geranium
Species: G. robertianum
Binomial name: Geranium robertianum
Common name: Herb Robert, Red Robin, Death come quickly. Stinky Bob,

Geranium robertianum is a species of Cranesbill in Europe and is commonly known as herb in Asia, North America, and North Africa. Geranium robertianum can grow at altitudes of up to 1,500. It grows as an annual or biennial plant, producing small, pink, five-petalled flowers (about 1 cm in diameter) from April until the autumn. The receptacle is elongated into a structure called a "torus". The fruit is a capsule. The seeds are brown and about two mm long.
The fern-like light green leaves are deeply dissected (10mm long). The leaves turn red at the end of the flowering season. The stems fork and are brittle at the joints. They are pubescent and under high light conditions are red and up to 25 cm long. The roots are shallow.

It has been introduced into other temperate parts of the world, probably through its use as an ornamental plant and is classified as a noxious weed in some areas. It is widely naturalised in New Zealand and it habits  waste places, road-sides and hedges in shaded areas.

In traditional herbalism, Herb Robert is used as a remedy for toothache and nosebleeds. An infusion made from the whole plant, minus the root, has been used for its diuretic and tonic effect and as a remedy for dysentery. It is also used on wounds for healing and to prevent scarring, having both an antiseptic and a styptic effect. Freshly picked leaves have an odour resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes. The active ingredients are tannins, bitters, and essential oils.