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Herb Robert

other names: Saint Roberts Herb, Bloodwort, Cranesbill

Geranium robertianum

Foraging & uses for Herb RobertHerb Robert is a pretty woodland herb with delicate pink star shaped flowers (up to 2cm across) that can be enjoyed from Spring through to October if conditions allow.

It’s one of those plants we’ve likely encountered many times with hardly a further thought other than to appreciate it’s beauty, or perhaps we’ve gardened it away in irritation. If only we’d known sooner just what a nutritional and medicinal powerhouse we were looking at!

 

It grows in a sprawling fashion from a central point that seems to hover above the ground, attaining a height of around 30-40cm. The red roots connect with the soil weakly, almost on legs, and on loose ground can easily be dislodged yet this doesn’t seem to hinder it’s progress in taking over an area as long as it is well watered. Herb Robert prefers to grow in shaded undergrowth but is not limited to woodland, also popping up close to walls, stored junk, cars… any structure that casts a decent shadow really.

 

It’s extremely useful as a medicinal herb for healing wounds and skin eruptions due to it’s antiviral and antibiotic properties, and has gained something of a reputation as a ‘wonder herb’ throughout history for many other powerful effects on the body!

Nutritionally it contains a great many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, and C along with calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and germanium which is used by the body in the transfer of much needed oxygen to the cells.

 

Herb Robert has an odd, if slightly unpleasant, smell which is reputed to repel mosquitoes if the leaves are rubbed on the skin. In my opinion the smell is not all that bad, certainly not as strong as it’s cultivated (Geranium) family members. It’s leaves are deeply lobed and arranged in threes creating an almost fern like appearance with slightly hairy undersides and stem, and older leaves are often tinged red towards the edges along with the stem itself.

 Foraging the leaves of Herb Robert

How and what to gather:

The leaves and flowers of Herb Robert can be picked regularly and the plant will happily continue to replace them. As with most wild plants pick the youngest uppermost leaves as older ones can be tough or slightly bitter. Both the flowers and leaves can be made into a tea, or added to soups, stews, and salads as a herb.

Another way, and my preferred no-fuss method, is to simply eat a little on the trail as they are as a handy supplement. The flavour of the leaves is quite nice with an almost sweet nature to it but subtle enough that I don’t think it would interfere much with other flavours. The flowers are much sweeter, similar to the sweet almond taste of Dead Nettle flowers – in all it makes a pleasant snack to liven the senses and invigorate the body!

 

The root is also useful in much the same way as the rest of the plant, and the whole lot can be dried for further immune-system support throughout Winter.

 

I’ll certainly be incorporating it into many a hike in my future to help boost my oxygen and energy levels, and I imagine it will also help to prevent any major aches setting in after a long day!

 

Have you encountered Herb Robert? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

 

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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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