ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum

Updated on May 26, 2013
Herb Robert flowers
Herb Robert flowers | Source

Other Names of Herb Robert

  • Red Robin
  • Death Come Quickly
  • Stinky Bob
  • Stork's Bill
  • Cuckoo's Eye
  • Bloodwort
  • Crow's Foot
  • Dove's Foot

While weeding the garden by hand, I came across a plant with red stems, hairy forked leaves with red edges and tiny 5-petalled pink flowers.

It pulled out of the ground easily, proving that it is shallow-rooted.

What struck me about Geranium robertianum was the aromatic scent from its leaves.

The scent was immediately released as I held it in my hand, and was strong, herbal and not unpleasant.

I have since read that Geranium robertianum is also known as 'Stinky Bob' which seems a bit unfair as the smell could not be described as 'stinky'.

Aromatic best describes it, but I can't place it any better than that.

Herb Robert is the common term for this plant which is a member of the cranesbill family.

The name Herb Robert tells us two things. It has been used historically as a herb, and most likely by someone named Robert.

Just who that Robert is remains a mystery.

Some say Robert was a 12th century French monk who used Geranium robertianum to cure illnesses and disease.

Yet others say the Robert refers to the 12th century Duke of Normandy.

The most widely held belief is that Herb Robert was named after Robin Goodfellow (Robin is a diminutive of Robert), the mischievous sprite (Puck) of old English folklore brought to life by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Herb Robert
Herb Robert | Source

Growing Conditions of Herb Robert

Herb Robert is mischievous.

Not just invasive, Geranium robertianum is frequently referred to as a noxious weed.

It reproduces by seed which are easily carried away by the wind and spread far and wide. The flowers are both self-fertile and open to pollinators.

The absence of bees and other insects would not stop it from seeding.

It is both annual and biennial, and flowers from late Spring through to Fall.

It will grow happily in both strong sunlight and full shade.

It's leaves and stems are photosensitive. They will turn red the more exposed they are to sunlight.

When Herb Robert is found in dense woodland, the plant is all-green.


  • Hedgerows
  • Rocky, exposed areas
  • Woodland
  • Moist habitats
  • Dry habitats
  • Coastal regions
  • Mountainous areas
  • Alkaline neutral or acidic areas.

Many books state that Herb Robert does not grow in acidic soils, but it does. My garden's soil is acidic and it flourishes, when allowed to do so.

Geranium robertianum
Geranium robertianum | Source

Medicinal Uses of Geranium robertianum

Herb Robert has a wide range of medicinal uses, or has traditionally been used for a wide range of medical conditions.

The leaves were infused into a tea which can either be consumed or applied to the skin, or a poultice can be made from them.

This is supposed to help:

Eye inflammations - a cooled tea infusion of Herb Robert can be dropped on to the eye to reduce inflammation and bring cool relief.

Skin Wash - reduces inflammation caused by burns, infection or injury.

Stems bleeding - either applied directly to the wound or taken internally for internal bleeding, Herb Robert is said to help the blood to clot and stop blood flows.

Cures throat, mouth and gum infections - used as a mouth wash or gargle, Herb Robert tea is said to help.

Cancer cure - yes folks it's another natural remedy for certain types of cancers because it contains a substance called geraniin.

Stops diarrhoea

Is an antioxidant with anti-viral and antibiotic properties - drunk as an infusion, Herb Robert promotes well-being and good health.

Lowers blood sugars - clinical trials have shown this to be true, but further studies need to be carried out.

Relieves aching joints - is said to be of especial use for rheumatism sufferers when applied as a poultice.

Diuretic - it is mildly diuretic and is said to have been used in come countries to treat kidney infections.

close-up of hairy leaf of Herb Robert
close-up of hairy leaf of Herb Robert | Source

If you have used Herb Robert as a mosquito repellent, can you tick the box if

See results

Herb Robert as a mosquito repellent

Crush up the stems and leaves of Herb Robert and apply to exposed skin to fend off mosquitoes.

Speaking as someone whose blood seems to be especially attractive to mosquitoes, I would love to know if this works.

It is certainly something for me to try. I have been known to try a lot of mosquito repellent 'cures', most of which fail miserably.

if anyone has tried this, please fill in the poll provided on this page.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Food Forager 

      6 years ago

      i regularly consume Herb Roberts. Am quite happy that he suddenly appeared in our forest.

      i have limited success with using the herb as insect repellent. When i heavily sweat, nothing works. But if i can keep my body heat and perspiration down, then Herb Robert has helped some.

      Use the most pungent leaves you can find. For me this is those who grow in sun, and those who have begun turning red. They can get pretty stinky in full sun. The taste is somewhat unpleasent as well. But i like the taste of those who grow in shade. It makes sense to me that the stinky sunny plants are what works best for repellent.

    • gardener den profile image

      Dennis Hoyman 

      6 years ago from Southwestern, Pennsylvania

      Hi GardenExpert999

      This is a great hub about the herb Robert isn't herb Robert a scented Geranium? Thanks for the information great hub! Keep up the great work! Gardener Den.

    • GardenExpert999 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Scotland

      Thanks DF, nice one!

      @Imogen, you may be right, as the leaves never seem to be chewed on like other plants or weeds. As Herb Robert is so common, I would appreciate someone's else's opinion of its smell. I can't place it, but it smells like it belongs in the herb garden.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Enjoyed the hub & shared it. Good one!

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      7 years ago from Southwest England

      Most geraniums have quite a distinct smell, so it must have some advantage to the plant. I would guess to stop it being eaten by herbivores.

    • GardenExpert999 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Scotland

      It was the scent of it that made me go look it up. As you know, most weeds have no scent so you wonder what the smell is for? Perhaps it is to ward off predators, and if it has predators, what goodness does it have inside to make something want to eat it? It has the ability to self-pollinate, so the smell would not be to attract pollinators. I still don't know to be honest, but it is good to know it has tried and tested medicinal uses and that it is not poisonous. Especially when it is so common!

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      7 years ago from Southwest England

      What an interesting hub - I had never considered the medicinal uses of herb Robert. It is rather prolific in my garden, so might have to give some of them a go. I don't mind them coming up here and there in my flower beds as I think they are quite a pretty weed, but they also seem to grow quite happily out of a crack in the path, and self-seed in flower pots and the vegetable plot - like you say, they are quite invasive! thanks for some interesting facts :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)