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Herb-Robert

This straggly but vigorous annual is well known to gardeners as an invasive weed. It likes open woodland, hedgerows and waste ground, even cracks in the pavement, and can be found all over Scotland, but is more local to the North. It is unknown in the Western Isles, but now introduced into the Northern isles. It spreads across ground using a shallow root system.

The plant is quite sticky and when crushed produces a rather unpleasant mouse-smell, which gives it the nickname ‘stinky bob.’ It is a type of Cranesbill having the same fruiting characteristics as other Cranesbills.

The flowers are small, up to 2cm in diameter, 5 thinnish petals with rounded ends, though sometimes small notches might be found. The colour varies – usually pale pink, but deeper pinks and uncommonly white has also been observed. Some petals have white streaks radiating from the centre. In the centre are 4 or 5 pink anthers grouped around another 5 stamens with anthers bearing yellow pollen. The plant’s habit is to redden in the summer sun, so that both stems and leaves become red by late summer. The leaves are deeply toothed with several asymmetrical lobes. It has been used as a cure for toothache among other ailments. As an infusion in tea it is said to have anti-toxin properties.

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