Healing with Herb Robert

Herb Robert flower and seedheads

Herb Robert flower and seedheads


Young plants of Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) are flourishing all over our garden and bush edge as I write in May. A few mature plants are still flowering.  This is an old medicinal plant common in Europe. The name Geranium is Greek for ‘cranesbill’ which is another name for this pretty annual or biennial garden escape found mainly in the North Island and occasionally in the South Island. Robertianum after Fr. Robert a French Abbot of Molerne, who had legendary medical skills, probably thanks to this plant.

Flowering from Sept-May it has joyful rose pink flowers in pairs with five oval petals that have white stripes. See if you can see the colour of the anthers at the end of the pink filaments as in Herb Robert the pollen is orange and in Lesser Herb Robert (Geranium purpureum) which has smaller flowers it is yellow. Both plants have bright green fern-like foliage which turns reddish growing in full sun or on older plants. The stems are green, through to shades of maroony red, brittle and hairy. Both species prefer to grow on the edge of bush, in hedgerows, roadsides and waste places in moist shade but they can also grow in full sun. Plants can reach 50cm high and the seed head has a long 2cm beak that resembles a birds beak which splits open ejecting the five seeds in five directions. With such a good distribution method this plant spreads easily.

Herb Robert has quite a strong distinctive smell, unpleasant to some but it acts as an insect deterrent making it a good companion plant in the garden for vegetables and flowers. Plants seem to grow well next to it. Try rubbing the fresh leaves on your skin to deter mosquitoes or put them in your pet’s bed to deter fleas. I refer to Herb Robert and Lesser Herb Robert interchangeably as they are very similar in appearance and it is very hard to tell them apart. Being so similar they have almost identical nutritional and medicinal properties.

Nutritional Qualities

  • carotenoids (which convert to Vitamin A)

    Lush Herb Robert leaves

    Lush Herb Robert leaves

  • Vitamins B and C
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • phosphorus
  • It is a natural source of germanium which as well as being an oxygen carrier and catalyst, also stimulates electrical impulses at a cellular level, which benefit the entire body according to Isabell Shipard a well known Australian herbalist. She further says that this humble herb has resulted in numerous amazing healings from such illnesses as cancer, colitis, chronic fatigue, cataracts, diabetes, mouth ulcers, bleeding gums and pain relief for those with rheumatism and arthritis. Even animals have been cured of cancer when fed with herb Robert in their food. Dr Otto Warburg, twice Noble Prize winner said in 1966, “The prime cause of cancer is lack of oxygenation of the cells.” He discovered that cancer cells could not exist in the presence of abundant oxygen, but only in an anaerobic state. Because oxygen plays such an important role in cell health and immune function, using Herb Robert regularly, is something very practical we can do, for our general wellbeing.
  • In addition, it is an energy giver immune builder which acts as a free radical scavenger, with antibiotic, antiviral and antioxidant properties. Consult your Doctor before using it, if you are on blood thinning medication as it may act on the viscosity of the blood.Herb Robert is easy to grow and a supremely therapeutic plant with all those health giving properties so how do we use it?
    Five or more leaves and stems in smoothies, soups, or a tea made by pouring boiling water over a teaspoon of fresh leaves or a pinch of dried leaves would be therapeutic and preventative. Sweeten with honey if you desire.
    A foot infusion is said to remove toxins, heavy metals and prevent radiation damage, so would be of benefit to those using mobile phones, computers, microwaves or having x-rays, which pretty much means all of us! To make a foot infusion put a handful of chopped herb Robert in a bowl and pour a litre of boiling water over it stirring well. Add enough cold water to make it comfortable and soak your feet for 15 blissful minutes. 


    Therapeutic dose of Herb Robert

    The therapeutic dose of herb Robert is made by using one teaspoon of dried and powdered or fresh and finely chopped leaves and stems. Mix it well with a fresh, raw preferably organic, free range egg yolk and take first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Don’t be put off by the raw egg yolk it is actually very palatable once you get used to it. I used six leaves in the mix and six beside to show you the quantity, which I also ate. With chewing the leaves turn quickly to liquid in your mouth and the taste is not like the smell, I actually like eating it because I know the good it is doing me.
    In order to have enough plants to be able to eat the leaves everyday, I

    Maturing seed capsules

    Maturing seed capsules

    recommend that you collect the seeds by hand after flowering. The seed is mature when the bird-beak shaped capsule is 2cm long, and has a round and hard oval at the end and is brown as in the photo. Test it with your fingers, nip it off and dry for 3-4 days. You can open the capsule yourself once dried and sow the seeds in large pots or direct sow in the ground, both in shady places. Cover the seeds with a light covering of soil and water regularly so the soil doesn’t dry out.Germination can take from 2-6 weeks depending on the conditions. To keep up your supply you will need to regularly sow seeds. They will establish in your garden once you have just one plant and then they will self sow and spread even to weird places like an abandonedpushchairplantmature push-chair.

    Young Herb Robert showing stalk and the rosette of leaves

    Young Herb Robert showing stalk and the rosette of leaves

    The photo left shows a young plant with a stalk but then it forms a rosette in the air with leaves. I find many Herb Robert plants grow like that, it’s a curious habit, but it obviously likes to be up in the air.


9 Responses to “Healing with Herb Robert”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Sharon says:

    Thank you this is so interesting. …I have believed there is something on this earth to cure everything. ..we just have to find it. I think this is a great start 😊😊😊

  2. Julia says:

    HI Sharon, thanks so much for sending in a comment with your thoughts. I love Herb Robert – it is a very special plant I believe. have you tried eating it yet? Warm wishes

  3. Natalie says:

    I wonder if this will be of any benefit if I add it to my chickens coop for bedding? As a bug repellant? Do you think it will be ok if the chickens nibble at it? I think it smells like dried, crushed coriander seeds. Many Thanks

  4. Julia says:

    HI Natalie, I think it would be great as a bug repellent for the chickens. And it is totally ok for them to nibble it. I have seen my chickens jump up to peck at the seed heads, so obviously they eat it naturally. I’ve also seen them jump up to reach black nightshade berries when they are ripe. Thank you for writing and for your comments.

  5. Renate says:

    Can I eat it as a vegetable, since it grows naturally around here, or would that be too much?

  6. Nicola-Jane Kieley-Shier says:

    I came out of my dads house one afternoon it was sunny after rain..The stench hit me so bad I was retching..like a mixture of sour milk old cider and vomit…I looked in his bin and everywhere to find the source of the smell till I saw his garden was overgrown with herb robert..so I’d like to try some as I have a fatty liver but what does it taste like?

  7. Julia says:

    HI Nicola-Jane, thanks for writing. You have a very sensitive sense of smell it seems and your description of the smell is amazing. I find herb robert has quite a strong smell and I don’t mind it, some people can’t stand it. I wouldn’t know how to describe the taste. I wouldn’t say it is delicious or even nice to eat but I eat it anyway because I thing it such a healing plant. When I eat it I find it quickly dissolves into liquid in my mouth. You might find the taste not too bad, I don’t know but you could just try a tiny amount and see how your body responds. The health benefits are worth it.. Go well. I’m curious how you know you have a fatty liver?

  8. Paula says:

    OMG!! im getting back into natural remedies and wild food and I’m so happy I found your website!! I’m married to a landscape gardener who might not be too happy with me cultivating weeds but hey im sure he wont mind the reduced grocery bill. He recently sprayed the lawn so all my daisies, plantains and dandelions r inedible now but im going round the verges and getting some very juicy looking weeds. I found a head of dandelion seeds yesterday and planted them all in pots so they will be coming up soon. But I have speedwell growing everywhere! and cleavers and some other weeds that just seem to go crazy! We’ve been cursing the creeping mallow, and there’s another weed with light green leaves that grows every where and looks a little like lettuce and every time I see it I keep wondering if we can eat that too. I’ve not got any herb Robert in my garden but ive seen it about, in the uk we call it cranes bill geranium (as it is of the geranium family and the seed pods look like crane/stork bills). But wow, yeah, i’m speechless, just every page I visit is like… “wow! we’ve got that! and that! I’ve been ripping that out and throwing it on the compost heap!!” So a huge great thankyou for putting this website together it’s amazing. Have you thought about doing a book for quick reference? we could take it out to the parks and reserves with us and learn about all the common plants, I want to teach the kids too. I’ve not checked out the products section yet, but will be heading there next.

  9. Julia says:

    HI Paula, great to hear from you and I’m so happy you’ve found the webpage useful!! Most of the weeds we have in NZ come from Europe and yes I knew Herb Robert is also called Cranesbill because, exactly as you say the seed heads look like a bird head and beak. Creeping mallow is SO good to eat and it is a hopeless task to try to get rid of it. It puts nodes down at every place a leaf comes out. It is mild in flavour and soft so not bitter or hairy and I find it great in salad.
    I have written a book and it comes in ebook form as a pdf and a hard back copy. Lots of weeds in it and all about health issues and so on but you’ll see in the description of the book more about it on the webpage. Thank you SO much for writing and making contact – it is letters like yours and make my heart sing and the weeds will be singing too. They love to be appreciated.