Usually a biennial which prefers shady spots and spreads by seed. It is a native of Europe, Asia and North Africa, but is considered an invasive weed in parts of North America where it may have been introduced as a garden plant or for its medicinal properties. The stems can be tinged with red and sprawl around reaching up to 50cm high. The deeply-lobed fern-like leaves turn a firey red in the autumn. The five-petaled, pink flowers appear from May to October.
An infusion of the whole top-growth has been used as a diuretic and a tonic; also as a remedy for dysentery, toothache and nosebleeds. It has antiseptic and styptic effects so can be used to treat wounds. The odour of the leaves when crushed can be rubbed on the body to repel mosquitoes and midges.