Herb Robert is a common wild geranium - Cranesbill - found in the UK and most parts of Europe as a hedgerow plant and often growing in walls. Annual or Biennial, it has small pink flowers - 1cm across - and ferny leaves with red stems.
The foliage of this Geranium - Herb Robert - is very aromatic also turns red after it has flowered, and lasts through to Autumn. The leaves form a rosette - sprouting from the base of the geranium. It can be used as a garden plant - so it is also a good ornamental herb - though can get invasive if not kept under control. It makes a good incidental edging to the edges of a paved path.
Herb Robert is very easy to grow. In fact it easier to grow than to control sometimes. It is one of those garden plants - similar to Forget me not - that once you have, you will always have. That is not to say that you should bot grow it, for it really is one of the more attractive herbs - with a long season of interest - the flowers, followed by the colouring foliage. And of course it is relatively dwarf.
It is the perfect plant for difficult places such as dry banks and dry stone walls. Neglected troughs and containers are a natural home for Geranium robertianum - the Herb Robert. There is also a white flowered version - Geranium robertianum Celtic White - which is also worth growing and has all the attributes of the pink flowered type - ornamental and herbal.
Herb Robert is a shallow rooting herb - hence its ability to survive - even thrive - in dry places. If found in a wall crevice it will rarely if ever, cause structural problems that do not already exists, for it will not find a home where the wall is well mortared and otherwise stable. Likewise in paved areas, it can be tolerated as Thyme is - and also makes a good ornamental partner to it.
Herb Robert also lays claim to other 'common names' such as 'Death Comes Quickly' 'Red Robin' and 'Stork's Bill' the latter being a derivative of the wider known and used Geranium name of 'Cranesbill'.
'Death Comes Quickly' probably refers to the fact that the plant appears to 'die' soon after flowering. In fact, the foliage takes a long time to die down, and is attractive whilst doing so.
'Red Robin' is almost certainly to do with the colour of the stems and the general appearance of the plant after flowering.
Cranesbill or Storks Bill relate to the long tapered seed heads which are typical of the Geranium family. These common names in particular, probably give rise to its supposed use as a fertility aid. Storks and Cranes long associated with the 'delivering' of babies!
Herb Robert is used to ease toothache and nosebleeds. An infusion which is made from the whole plant, but not the root, can be used for diuretic and tonic effect. It can also be used as a mouthwash. It has also been used as a cure for dysentery. Used on wounds, it has an antiseptic effect. Freshly picked leaves have a strong smell if crushed. Rubbed on the body the smell repels mosquitoes and other flying insects.
Tannins, Bitters and Essential Oils
The Essential Oils coming from the foliage when crushed, are purported to keep mosquitoes at bay. The aroma - for me - is quite pleasant. Others have likened it to the smell of burning rubber. I find that hard to justify.
When carried in small cloth sachets, it is said to be a preventative aid against ill-will spirits. Also to attract 'good luck'!
Has been used to treat internal bleeding in homeopathic medicine. We have no information on this use.