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April 2017--Herb Robert

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Herb Robert

By Christer Johansson - Own work (File produced by Christer Johansson), CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=905830

Geranium robertianum

[jer-AY-nee-um roh-bert-ee-AH-num] 

Family: Geraniaceae 

Names: Storkbill, Fox Geranium,  Dragon’s Blood, Wild Crane’s Bill; Heaven’s Bread, Adebar’s Bread, Misery Bread, Anthrax herb, stinking Bob, Rupert’s Herb, Robert’s Herb, Scab Herb, Red Flow Herb, God’s Grace Herb, Warts Herb, Orvale 

Pharmaceutical Name: Herba Ruperti 

Description: Plants grow 4-20 inches high with reddish, thin, stiffly branched stems; leaves, stems and sepals are covered with soft hair; leaves are triangular in shape, divided into 3-5 lobes, pinnatified-cleft; flowers are pink, crimson, or violet with 5 petals and 3 white veins; fruits are bill-shaped, pointed, about ¾ inch long. 

Cultivation: Herb Robert is an annual that winters over in some areas.  It self-seeds and propagates easily and quickly. It prefers well-watered soil and shady places but will grow in arid, sunny spots as well.  When gathering fresh flowering plants to administer internally, choose large green ones; for external applications, look for small blood red ones.  Hang the whole plants in bunches to dry on a line in an airy place. When they are thoroughly dried, cut them into small pieces and store them in an airtight container. 

History: Greek name of the plant from geranos meaning crane because the fruits resemble a crane’s bill.   Hildegard von Bingen recommended a mixture of Herb Robert, Pennyroyal and Rue for melancholy 800 years ago.  Paracelsus later prescribed the same mixture to his melancholic patients to be eaten powdered and  sprinkled on bread.    Herb Robert is named after the 11th century healer, Robert of Moleme. 

Constituents: bitter compounds, geranin, tannins and essential oil 

Medicinal Uses: In the past Herb Robert was used mostly in veterinary medicine, especially fore the treatment of blood in the urine and infectious diseases.  An application for melancholy and sadness was recommended.  It stimulated the metabolism. It is now occasionally employed in much the same way as American cranesbill as an astringent and wound healer.  More investigation is needed as according to one authority it is also effective against stomach ulcers and inflammation of the uterus, and it has potential as a treatment for cancer.  To treat chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal trace, try administering Herb Robert in the form of a medicinal wine.  A simple one is made by filling a large jar half and half with freshly plucked, chopped Herb Robert and a good red wine.  Let the mixture stand for two weeks before straining it into a corked bottle.  Sip by snifter before meals.  For external applications, the freshly pressed juice of Herb Robert is best.  You can either apply the juice directly to the area being treated or use it In compresses.  Herb Robert is available as “Herba Geranii Robertiani and the homeopathic mother tincture “Geranium robertianum is prepared from the fresh flowering plant. 

Applications: Herb Robert Tea: Use 2 teaspoons of the dried herb per cup of cold water, letting the mixture step overnight. Never boil it!  A daily dosage is 2 cups. 

Tincture: prepare the tincture by filling a dark mason jar with fresh chopped herb Robert and enough grain spirit or fruit liqueur to cover.  Let the mixture steep for 3 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.  Strain the tincture into dropper bottles.  In acute cases, take 20-30 drops every hour.

Wine for  Happy Heart: herb Robert, rue, pennyroyal, 1 liter good red wine.  Take a handful each of fresh flowering plants, chop them up, and put them in a jar.  Pour the red wine over them, letting the mixture steep for 2 weeks.   

Veterinary Medicine: Herb Robert is an old remedy for cattle.  Considered a tonic, it has been used by farmers for a long time to treat blood in the urine,. The retention of urine, and kidney infections.  The freshly pressed juice is effective for treating wounds and ulcers in animals as well as people.  Finally, skin rashes in pigs can be rubbed with the fresh juice. 

 Culinary Uses: The Romans particularly liked this vegetable, their so-called pelmenia was a popular garnish. The fresh roots taste like parsnips and they are a delicacy when cooked or baked in a béchamel sauce.

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
, Andrew Chavallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Medicine of the Earth
, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, Rudra Press, 1996; ISBN: 0-915801-59-0

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The Herb Growing & Marketing Network
Maureen Rogers, Director
PO Box 245, Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245
717-368=6360; FAX: 717-393-9261