Geranium robertianum, commonly known as herb-Robert, red robin, death come quickly, storksbill, fox geranium, stinking Bob, squinter-pip (Shropshire), crow's foot, or (in North America) Roberts geranium, is a common species of cranesbill native to Europe and parts of Asia, North America, and North Africa.
Its main area of distribution is Europe from the north Mediterranean coast to the Baltic and from the British Isles in the west to the Caucasus in the east, and eastern North America. In western North America, it has escaped from cultivation and is regarded as an invasive species. Geranium robertianum is common throughout Great Britain and Ireland in woodland, hedgerows, scree and maritime shingle. It grows at altitudes from sea level to 710 metres (2,329 ft) in Teesdale, England and above 2,100 metres (6,890 ft) in parts of mainland Europe on calcareous alpine screes.
Herb Robert has been studied in multiple papers, one of which summarizes its properties by: "the confirmation of the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycaemic and cytotoxic activities of Geranium Robertianum, closely related to the high content of phenolic compounds, has come to corroborate to some extent the recognized beneficial proprieties of this medicinal plant."
A study on rats found that oral administration of leaf decoctions over a period of four weeks lowered the plasma glucose levels in diabetic rats. The work in finds that herb Robert stem extract has strong scavenging effects and that its "anti-inflammatory activity may partially result from its anti-radical capacities towards nitric oxide".
Herb Robert has been used in the folk medicine of several countries, including as a remedy for diarrhea, to improve functioning of the liver and gallbladder, for toothache and nosebleeds, and as a vulnerary (used for or useful in healing wounds). The name has been explained as a reference to abbot and herbalist Robert of Molesme. Freshly picked leaves have an odor resembling burning tires when crushed, and if they are rubbed on the body the smell is said to repel mosquitoes.
The active ingredients are tannins, a bitter compound called geraniin, and essential oils.
It was carried to attract good luck, and due to its analogical association with storks, to enhance fertility