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A common species in woodland edges and hedgerows



Herb-Robert: stinky old Bob

Post date: Friday, 23 May, 2014 - 00:00

Have you ever stopped to wonder why Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) is so called? No? It must be just me then! I wonder who Robert was that he should justify having a flower named after him? I am not aware of a Herb-Peter or a Herb-John ... although there is a Herb-Bennett and a Herb-Paris. Anyway, I did some research for these notes and I am still none the wiser; I am destined to wonder about Robert for a while yet.

If the Robert or robertianum part of the name is a mystery the geranium certainly is not. Herb-Robert is undoubtedly a member of the geranium family which are also known as stork's-bills or crane's-bills. Once the flowers disappear the seed box swells and the long pointed style remains and what is left looks like a stork's bill and this is, of course, true of any member of the geranium family.

It is a really common flower in woodlands, and along shady hedgerows, flowering from late spring right the way through in to the autumn. It can be found right across Dorset and, indeed, much of Britain and western Europe. At some point it was introduced into the USA and now In the state of Washington it is known as Stinky Bob and classified as a noxious weed!

Next time I see a plant I must crush a leaf, it apparently smells of burning tyres giving rise to the Stinky Bob label. It is also believed to be a remedy for toothache and nosebleeds.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Herb-Robert
Scientific Name Geranium robertianum
Family Geranium family - Geraniaceae
Status very common
Interest Level
Species Family Cranesbill Family - Geraniaceae
Flower Colour Group Pink
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Preferred Environment
Look for A common geranium flower with heavily serrated leaves
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
W1: Broad-leaf Woodland Associated
SH: Hedgerow Scrub Associated