Herb Robert by Sue Perryman

Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum Magical Properties: Fertility, Luck, Protection, Faerie Magic, Abundance Planetary Ruler: Venus Element: Water Herb Robert seems to have fallen out of favour as a medicinal or magical herb, and many people won't tolerate it in their gardens, seeing it as an invasive weed, but I love it’s pretty pink star shaped flowers. My garden is full of it despite my mother telling me it’s a weed and needs pulling up or spraying with weed killer! Herb Robert belongs to the Geranium family, it is native to Europe, parts of Asia, North America and North Africa. It has lots of different names, some of which also belong to other plants which makes it confusing, but my research came up with these: Bloodwort, Dragon’s blood, Fox geranium, Fox grass, Knife and fork, Robin flower, Red Roger, Death-come-quickly, Crow’s foot, Stinking Bob and Stinking Roger. The plant itself is a biennial and grows from April until September. It’s stems are red and it’s flowers are small, pink and have 5 petals; the leaves are dark green and palmately divided. The stems are a reddish colour. It’s long beaked seed pods explode when they are ripe, sending seeds out several meters away. Herb Robert was used in the past to treat a variety of ailments. It is a vulnerary as are all geraniums, meaning it’s a wound healer; it was used mainly as a compress for wounds and nose bleeds. The fresh leaves when cut give off an unpleasant acrid scent which is said to keep mosquitoes away when rubbed on the skin. Another reason to keep Herb Robert in your garden is that it is food for a wide variety of insects, including bees, hover flies and the barred carpet moth. It is said by some that Herb Robert is named after Saint Robert of Molesme, an 11th century French herbalist and abbot who healed many people of a variety of illnesses using this plant. Other sources have it named after Robin Goodfellow, an alternative name for Puck, a mischievous domestic and nature sprite who most people will know from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. An old saying from Somerset about Herb Robert, went: ‘If ‘ee pick’n someone’ll take thee’ referring to Faeries. Elsewhere it was considered to bring good luck if carried. The fresh leaves are edible and can be added to salads or used as a tea, although I’ve not tried it myself. Please use caution if you want to try it, although it has no known contraindications I would avoid it particularly if you pregnant or taking prescribed medication.




image: authors own


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