Herb Robert ( Geranium robertianum)
Little herb Robert, bright and small, peeps from the bank or the old stone wall.
Little herb Robert, his leaf turns red, his wild geranium, so it is said.
A plant with bright red stems especially when mature, which Wordsworth has commented on in his works. However these stems were noted long before Wordsworth in the phenomenon known as the doctrine of signatures.
This term is used to describe the concept that a plant resembles that which it can cure and is said to be employed by tribal doctors across the world. It is said Herb Robert is one of the best plants for blood disorders and to staunch wounds brought to the attention of early herbalists by its red stems.
The fresh leaves can be used as a compress for wounds and as a sedative and astringent, as well as gargle for sore throats and mouth. A lotion can be made from it for irritated eyes.
The plant can be dried and used internally to lower blood sugar for diabetics, help diarrhea, peptic ulcers and treat an internal haemorrhage.
The name Robert may simply mean red (ruber) for its stems or a reference to Robert the Duke of Normandy whom wrote a medieval medical treatise on the plant. Its foliage has a pungent smell given rise to the local name of ‘stinking bob’.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.