Officially the flowering season is May to October and the flowers are certainly much more abundant then but this is one of those flowers that is so common that I can find it in any month of the year. I took this next photograph (today) in December.
It is a woodland flower and is said to be an ancient woodland indicator species but it seems to grow everywhere, it grows happily in hedgerows and I have yet to see a garden without Herb Robert growing in it somewhere. To many people it is an annoying weed but in the wild it is a valuable wildlife flower.
In some parts of North America it is known as Stinky Bob. This is because the leaves have a pungent odour. I have heard this variously described as Mousy, like a Fox or burning rubber. The smell acts as a natural insect repellent and rubbing the leaves on yourself is said to repel Mosquitoes.
Gardeners take note, Stinky Bob is not troubled by insect pests and allowing it into your garden might keep pests away from your more vulnerable plants too.
There are 422 different species in the genus Geranium and they are called Crane’s-bills to differentiate them from the genus Pelargonium because Pelargoniums are commonly known as Geraniums. Does that make sense?
Many of the Crane’s-bills have seed pods shaped like the bill of a Crane.
The seeds are in the red casing at the base of the pod. That casing is called the calyx and is formed by the sepals of the flower. In this next picture I have peeled the calyx back to expose the seeds.
There are five seeds at the base of the pod, each attached to a spring which runs almost to the tip of the “bill.” When the seeds are ready to release the spring will curl outward from the base with enough force to detach itself from the tip off the pod and the seed will be distributed.
Well that is how Herb Robert’s crane’s-bill works. Others work in different ways. In many species the seed sits in a cup at the base of the pod and when the spring fires only the seed is thrown, the spring and cup remain attached to the pod.
Crane’s-bill geraniums have five petals.
Species: Geranium robertianum