HERB ROBERT RED ROBIN RED SHANKS DRAGON'S BLOOD





(Geranium Robertianum) Geranium family



Flowers - Purplish rose, about 1/2 in. across, borne chiefly in

pairs on slender peduncles. Five sepals and petals; stamens 10;

pistil with 5 styles. Stem: Weak, slender, much branched, forked,

and spreading, slightly hairy, 6 to i8 in. high. Leaves: Strongly

scented, opposite, thin, of 3 divisions, much subdivided and

cleft. Fruit: Capsular, elastic, the beak 1 in. long,

awn-pointed.

Preferreed Habitat - Rocky, moist woods and shady roadsides

Flowering Season - May-October

Distribution - Nova Scotia to Pennsylvania, and westward to

Missouri.



Who was the Robert for whom this his "holy herb" was named? Many

suppose that he was St. Robert, a Benedictine monk, to whom the

twenty-ninth of April - the day the plant comes into flower in

Europe - is dedicated. Others assert that Robert Duke of

Normandy, for whom the "Ortus Sanitatis," a standard medical

guide for some hundred of years, was written, is the man honored;

and since there is now no way of deciding the mooted question, we

may take our choice.



Only when the stems are young are they green; later the plant

well earns the name of red shanks, and when its leaves show

crimson stains, of dragon's blood.



At any time the herb gives forth a disagreeable odor, but

especially when its leaves and stem have been crushed until they

emit a resinous secretion once an alleged cure for the plague.

Flies, that never object to a noxious smell, constantly visit the

flower, and have their tongues guided through passages between

little ridge-like processes on each petal to the nectar secreted

by the base of the filaments at the base of each sepal. To

prevent self-fertilization the five stigmas are folded close

together when the flower opens, nor do they spread apart and

become receptive until after the outer row of anthers, then the

inner row, have shed their pollen. When the elastic carpels have

ripened their seed, bang! go the little guns, scattering them far

and wide.





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