Geranium robertianum

This weed has been a feature of my garden since moving here.

Geranium robertianum

(Herb Robert)

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Pretty isn’t it? But I’m afraid I can’t get to like it. Why? Well, despite its pretty pink flowers and its delicate foliage which turns from lime green to dark green and then to pinky red and orange … it smells! Only if I disturb it of course, but since it also spreads like wildfire, popping up in the most inappropriate places such as in the centre of a lavender bush, or among my Nigella seedlings, it has to go. Its revenge is a pungent smell that reminds me of tomcats, or foxes…. need I say more.

Recently I decided to read up about it when I accidentally discovered that this plant, also known as Herb Robert, or “Stinking Bob”(!), is actually a mosquito repellent. Hmmm. What’s worse – the smell, or a mosquito bite? Another common name, Storksbill, suggests a link to its ancient use as a fertility herb. It was also used as a remedy for toothache, gout, bruises, nosebleeds….  And apparently it is good luck to carry some around with you… although its smell may repel more than just the mosquitoes!

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The delicate pale to deep pink flowers have five petals and are able to self-fertilise if they are not pollinated. The leaves also look quite delicate and are mostly pale green, but as the plant ages, or in very hot or very cold weather, they turn to a lovely pinkish red, and then to a burnt orange. Herb Robert first appears here in April or May and lasts until the frosts. I have even seen it under the snow. It supposedly likes shade best, but in my garden it also spreads very happily across the sunny and dry south-facing rockery. It is easy to remove, but prolific.

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Have you seen this herb/weed in your garden? Or perhaps some other type of wild Geranium?