Geranium Robertianum F. Geraniaceae
Favourite Growing Conditions
Herb Robert prefers a shady damp woodland environment. It grows from tropical Cairns in the north to cool temperate Tasmania in the south of Australia.
The plant has shallow, weak roots and prefers shady damp conditions and can be grown in containers. Plants that germinate in spring will bloom and produce seed later in summer and autumn. After flowering, the base of the blossom develops the seed receptacle, 17mm long, and when mature, looks like a bird’s beak, giving rise to the common geranium names: ‘storkbill’ and ‘cranesbill’. Herb Robert can propel seeds up to 20 feet; it self-seeds readily and is a prolific invader in shady gardens ensuring an abundance of plants.
(invasive – warning)
Generally easy to grow it needs to be carefully contained as it has ‘very invasive weedy’ tendencies in the right shady, damp conditions. It is important to keep plants out of compost piles as seeds;
• can be clinging to the soil of their roots when removed
• are small and are ejected a long distance
• are produced in large numbers
• can stay dormant in the soil for 3-5 years
• germinate even when conditions are harsh
• are produced when the plant is still young.
It is an annual plant growing up to 30-40 cm (8 inches–2 feet) delicate stems branch in many directions and may turn red in colour. Attractive green leaves are palmate in shape (leaves that have five or more lobes arising from a single point, spreading like fingers from a hand), and in sunlight are often tinged with autumn colours of pink, red or bronze.
Very dainty, pink flowers, 15mm across, have five rounded petals. Each petal has 3 streaks of white, starting at the centre and phasing out along the petal. Plants of this species can thrive in all types of soil, including neutral, acidic and alkaline and all soil types as long as they are nitrogen rich. They require water during dry spells or if signs of wilting.
For medicinal use all of the plant can be consumed; however, eating just the stems and leaves ensures a steady crop. These are covered with very fine, glandular hairs giving rise to the plant’s disagreeable bitter, aromatic odour. Harvest as they come into bloom and use dried or fresh.
Herb Robert is a geranium and contains the powerful antioxidant vitamins A, C and vitamin B. It is full of minerals such as iron, sodium; potassium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium and even the wonder trace mineral germanium.
Germanium (in trace amounts) functions as a free-radical scavenger (so it is an anti-oxidant), as well as activating and catalysing the use of oxygen within the body creating an oxygen rich environment that is anti-viral and anti-biotic for the pathogenic (disease producing) organisms. Germanium improves electrical conductivity at a cellular level and is an important part of the DNA chain itself – therefore it is a very regenerating element to receive in our diet.
Herb Robert also contains the phyto-nutrient ‘ellagic acid’ which has powerful anti-tumour qualities being an anti-oxidant and anti-proliferative, helping to neutralise the effects of harmful carcinogens. Herb Robert is an adaptogen, meaning that it has a way of modulating the immune system by boosting it in times of stress and balancing it out again when overly stressed.