plantlore

Herb Robert *Germanium Robertianum*

Distinctive striped flowers, fern like leaves and a red stalk.

The shape of the flower bulbs. Often compared to birds bills.

Herb Robert is one of those plants that once you identify it, you will see it everywhere. It has many different names including (but certainly not limited to): Roberts Geranium, Squinter Pip, Cranesbill, Storksbill, Red Robin, Bloodwort, Felonwort, Forgotten Treasure, Crowsfoot, Stinky Bob (my favourite name so far) and Fox Geranium.

The latter of the names refer to its pungent smell, especially after rain. To me, it does smell mildly foxy (and a bit like parsley) and has a flavour…well, I wouldn’t go as far as to describe as unpleasant, but it’s not encouragingly tasty (it tastes and a bit musty). A few leaves slipped into a spicy salad would go unnoticed but on it’s own the flavour lingers.

Some people believe the name Herb Robert comes from the botanist and Abbot, (later Sainted) Robert of Molesme, although I can’t find much supporting evidence other than his fondness of healing herbs. Another speculation is that its from the fact that part of the Latin name could be a corruption of ‘Ruber’ meaning red.

Herb Robert was once used regularly as a tonic, nowadays it seems to have fallen out of favour (it doesn’t taste that bad, promise). I however, think its greatly useful and do nibble on the fresh young leaves as I pass them and dry the whole plant for use as in tea.

Uses

  • Herb Robert boosts the immune system by making more oxygen available to the body. This also can help in cases of fatigue and chronic illness by boosting energy levels.
  • It is antiviral, antioxident and has antibiotic qualities (natural antibiotics being very different to prescribed ones, which I use if nothing else works but it has a rather devastating effect on my whole body)
  • It can be used externally as a poultice to staunch bleeding and aid the healing process. Also, It draws out minor infection and can soothe sore skin complaints and rheumatism.
  • Culpepper recommended it for toothache as a mouthwash. He also recommended drinking small quantities to soothe stomach ulcers and diarrhea.
  • Magically, it is associated with Venus thus making it useful in potions and sympathetic magic for love, beauty and the arts.

I add it to my Fire Cider recipe, drink it in tea (in small doses and with other flavours like rosemary) and add it to my Alter and spell work to represent Venus

Here it seen growing in Ivy crawling up a tree!

Dangers

Not recommended for use when taking blood thinning medications. Or during pregnancy or for children. As always, I am not a Doctor so do talk to your GP if you plan on adding Herb Robert to your diet and Do Not consume anything unless you are 100% sure you have identified it correctly.

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