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Little Robin

Geranium purpureum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Geraniaceae (Cranesbill)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, meadows, riversides, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, waterside, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Reddish-pink flowers. Petals are roundish and unnotched. The flowers are slightly smaller (up to 14mm across) than those of the similar looking Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). Yellow pollen and anthers.
A beaked fruit, 13 to 16mm in length.
Deeply divided, 3 to 5-lobed, short-stalked leaves. The leaves are identical to those of Herb Robert but more narrowly cut.
Other Names:
Purple Cranesbill, Purple Geranium, Woodland Geranium.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Geranium purpureum, also known as purple crane's-bill or woodland geranium, is a species of perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its large, purple, saucer-shaped flowers that bloom in the late spring to early summer. The plant has deeply lobed leaves and can grow up to 8 inches in height. It prefers well-drained soils and partial shade, often found in woodlands, meadows, and along stream banks. Geranium purpureum is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also used in cut flower arrangements. It's also known for its medicinal properties, such as astringent, anti-inflammatory, and tonic.


Little Robin, also known as Geranium purpureum, is a small but mighty perennial plant that can add color and charm to any garden. This herbaceous plant is a member of the Geranium family, which includes over 400 species. Native to Europe and western Asia, Little Robin is a low-growing plant that produces clusters of delicate pinkish-purple flowers from late spring to early summer.

Little Robin grows to a height of only 6 to 8 inches, making it an ideal choice for rock gardens, borders, and as a ground cover. Its deeply cut, lobed leaves are bright green in color, and turn shades of red in the fall, adding another layer of interest to this already charming plant.

This hardy plant is relatively easy to care for and is an excellent choice for novice gardeners. Little Robin prefers a location with full sun to partial shade and moist, well-draining soil. It can tolerate some drought once established, but regular watering during dry periods is recommended.

One of the most significant benefits of Little Robin is its ability to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The plant's small but vibrant flowers provide nectar and pollen, making it a vital food source for these important insects. This makes Little Robin an excellent addition to any garden aiming to support local pollinator populations.

Propagation of Little Robin can be done by seed or by dividing established plants. It is best to divide the plant in early spring or fall when the weather is cooler. Once established, Little Robin is relatively low-maintenance and can be left to grow and thrive with minimal intervention.

Little Robin is a plant that has been used in traditional herbal medicine for centuries. The plant is believed to have astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties, and was often used to treat digestive issues, skin conditions, and infections.

While Little Robin is not commonly used in modern herbal medicine, its benefits are still being researched. Studies have shown that the plant contains high levels of antioxidants, which can help protect the body against damage from free radicals. Little Robin may also have anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed in this area.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Little Robin has cultural and historical significance. The plant was often used in folklore and mythology, and was believed to have mystical properties. In some cultures, Little Robin was thought to protect against evil spirits or to bring good luck and fortune.

Little Robin has a long history of use in culinary applications as well. The plant has a slightly sour and tangy flavor that pairs well with fruits and other sweet dishes. The leaves can be used fresh or dried as a seasoning for salads, soups, and stews, and the flowers can be used as a garnish or added to desserts for a pop of color and flavor.

In addition to its culinary uses, Little Robin has also been used in the perfume industry. The plant's essential oil has a sweet and floral aroma that is often used as a fragrance in soaps, lotions, and perfumes.

Little Robin is also a popular plant in the horticultural industry, and there are many different cultivars available with a range of flower colors and foliage patterns. Some popular varieties include 'Purple Pillow', which has deep purple flowers and compact growth habit, and 'Sanguineum', which has pink flowers and attractive bronze-colored foliage.

Little Robin also has a rich cultural significance in various parts of the world. In some cultures, it is associated with love, and it is often given as a gift to express romantic feelings. In others, it is considered a symbol of friendship and loyalty.

In parts of Europe, Little Robin is associated with St. George's Day, which is celebrated on April 23rd. The plant is often used to decorate homes and public spaces during this holiday, and it is believed to bring good luck and fortune to those who display it.

Little Robin has also been used in traditional folk medicine to treat a range of ailments. In Eastern Europe, the plant was used to treat digestive problems, while in other parts of the world, it was used to treat wounds, skin irritations, and respiratory infections.

Overall, Little Robin is a plant with a rich and diverse history that continues to inspire and delight people around the world. Whether appreciated for its beauty, ecological benefits, culinary uses, or cultural significance, Little Robin is a plant that is sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of gardeners, nature lovers, and herbalists alike.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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