Quick facts

Common names: herb-robert, red robin, death-come-quickly, stinking Bob, squinter-pip

Scientific name: Geranium robertianium

Family: Geraniaceae

Origin: native

Flowering season: May to September

Habitat: broadleaf woodland, grassland, heathland and moorland

What does herb-robert look like?

Herb-robert is a low-growing biennial with reddish stems.

Leaves: are palmately divided and about 6cm long. They are dark green.

Flowers: are bright pink and star-shaped with five petals.

Not to be confused with: other geranium species that have similar, fern-like leaves include hedgerow cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum) and dove’s foot cranesbill (Geranium molle).

Where to find herb-robert

Herb-robert is native to Europe. It is common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, often growing in the shade of woodland edges, next to walls and in other darker spots. When it grows in rocky, sunny sites the sunshine turns its stems a crimson red.

Orange-tip butterfly feeding on herb-robert flower

Credit: David Kjaer / naturepl.com

Value to wildlife

Herb-robert is a foodplant and nectar-source for many invertebrates including bees, hoverflies and the barred carpet moth.

Uses of herb-robert

Herb-robert was traditionally used as an antiseptic, as well as to treat stomach upset and nosebleeds.

Its leaves are edible and used by some to make tea. They have also been used crushed and rubbed on the skin as an insect repellent.

Mythology and symbolism

Herb-robert was traditionally carried to bring good luck and for fertility.

Did you know?

Herb-robert is thought to have gained its name from an ancient association with Robin Goodfellow, a house goblin from English folklore also known as Puck. That said, some think it was named after an 11th-century monk who cured many people using the plant.

Threats and conservation

Herb-robert is common and widespread. It is not currently considered to be under threat.

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