Herb Robert. Photo Credit: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Herb Robert flowers. Photo Credit: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Herb Robert leaves. Photo Credit: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Also known as: stinky Bob, Robert geranium, fox geranium, red Robin, crow’s foot
Herb Robert is a low growing winter and spring annual or biannual. It spreads quickly, pushing out native plants and poses a threat to forest biodiversity. Its leaves produce a pungent odor of diesel and mint when crushed. In recent years, herb Robert has become one of the most common woodland weeds in Western Oregon.
|Life Cycle:||Annual (life cycle lasts one year) or Biennial (life cycle lasts two years)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||1 foot (30 centimeters)|
|Leaf Description:||Its light green leaves are deeply dissected and covered by tiny hairs. The foliage turns red in the late fall. The leaves release a strong odor when crushed, thus giving this species the common name, ‘stinky Bob’.|
|Fruit & Flower Description:||Small, delicate flowers have five white or pink petals. It blooms frequently throughout the spring and fall. It reproduces by seeds which may be ejected as far as 15 feet (4.5 meters) from the mother plant!|
|Bloom Time:||Spring through Fall|
- Herb Robert is highly adaptable and is commonly found in moist, semi-shaded forests. It is also becoming a significant garden pest in many areas.
- Often it takes advantage of habitats that have been recently cleared.
- Herb Robert can quickly spread throughout forested areas forming dense mats pushing out native flora.
- It spreads by its seeds being dispersed by water, wildlife, and humans. Its seeds can survive in the soil for several years.
- It can encroach on parks and gardens which increases landscape maintenance costs.
What you can do about it:
- Luckily, herb Robert is an easy species to control. It has a shallow root system which makes hand pulling easy. Its best to pull plants before they produce seeds.
- Mowing or cutting it back with a string trimmer early in the season before it produces flowers is also effective.
Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa) is often confused with herb Robert and often grows in similar habitats. Pacific bleeding heart is native to the Pacific Northwest and attracts many pollinator species. It does not produce an odor when its leaves are crushed.
Shiny geranium (Geranium lucidum), another weed, is often found with Herb Robert. Shiny geranium has similar leaves and flowers, but its stems have a distinctive red color.