Herb-Robert Geranium robertianum

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See April, May, June, July, August, September
Colour Purple
Habitat Woodland

Herb Robert is very familiar: it lives with man, much as the Robin flips into his garden and to his back door’Geoffrey Grigson, ‘The Englishman’s Flora’

A pretty, pink flower commonly found in shady places.

It has five petals with rounded ends, five-lobed leaves and thin, reddish, stems. The latter are often quite hairy and produce a strong, unpleasant smell! The sepals are red.

Distribution

Common throughout the UK, apart from areas of north and north-west Scotland.

Habitat

Woods, hedgerows, shady places, scree, shingle, trails, garden weed especially by shady walls.

Best time to see

Flowers from April to September.

Did you know?

Herb Robert has a plethora of local names including Bachelor’s Buttons, Granny-thread-the-needle, Stinking Robert, Robin redbreast and Pink pinafores. Herba Sancti Ruperti was probably given to St Robert of Salzburg.

Both in England and abroad it was believed to be the plant of the house goblin, the German Knecht Ruprecht, and in England Robin Goodfellow. 16th Century mentions of this creature make him hairy, red-featured, sometimes wearing a red suit and carrying a candlestick so common qualities with the plant include colour, hairiness and candlestick beaks.

It is considered the vegetable counterpart to the Robin which can bring good luck if treated kindly or conversely terrible mishaps if killed or its nest destroyed. Associations between the bird and Herb Robert relate to colour, the beaks and the way it keeps humans company round the house.