Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) — ID Guide

Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) – Ruithéal rí – Geraniaceae

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Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) is perhaps one of our best known native wildflower in the Geranium family. This beautiful little pink flower is accustomed to growing in a variety of different habitats, from hedgerows, rocky areas, stone walls and even waste ground.

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The plant itself is generally straggling, with five pink petals and in the centre it has distinctive orange anthers. Herb-Robert can be found in flower throughout most of the year and since it is such a common species, it’s unlikely you will have to travel far to record it.

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The species can look slightly different depending on where it is growing, this generally comes down to the amount of red colouring present in the leaves. In areas where the plant is stressed or too dry (a stone wall for example) the species can appear very red in comparison to one growing at a roadside verge which maintains a healthier looking green colouration.

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The leaves are heavily lobed, hairy, and can be divided up to five times, as mentioned above these can become red if the plant is stressed.

Beaked and hairy seed pods of Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
Beaked and hairy seed pods of Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy

The species could be confused with other members of the geranium family, in particular Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) – however this plant is smaller and much glossier than Herb-Robert, and also has a distinctive green swollen calyx.

Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) a small and distinctive member of the Geranium family – Oisín Duffy
Shining Cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) a small and distinctive member of the Geranium family – Oisín Duffy

A selection of pictures of Herb-Robert below –

View of a deconstructed Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
View of a deconstructed Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
Silver markings on the pink petals are very prominent on this particular individual – Oisín Duffy
Silver markings on the pink petals are very prominent on this particular individual – Oisín Duffy
A very pale, almost completely white form of Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
A very pale, almost completely white form of Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
A rather flouncy looking Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
A rather flouncy looking Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
The hoverfly Rhingia campestris a common visitor to Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
The hoverfly Rhingia campestris a common visitor to Herb-Robert – Oisín Duffy
Oisín Duffy
About Oisín Duffy 23 Articles
Oisín Duffy is an ecologist and environmental educator with a special interest in the Flora of Ireland and Pollinators. He is the photographer and co-author of Biodiversity Ireland’s identification guide on “Trees and Shrubs”. He has a BA from NUIG and an MSc from NUIG and UL. Oisín is an active biological recorder, and current Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-county recorder for East Donegal (H34) and participates in a number of recording schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), Bat Conservation Ireland (BCI) and others. In 2016, Oisín worked in conjunction with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to develop a plant monitoring scheme for Ireland. During the Summer of 2016, he toured Ireland giving workshops for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. His most recent work has been as a photographer and author of the “Wildflowers in South Armagh”.

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