Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule) is here! The whole weed is good to eat, join the party!
It is a an annual plant to 10-25 cm tall, with soft, finely hairy stems. The leaves are opposite, rounded, 2-3 cm diameter, with a lobed margin. The flowers are pink to purple, 1.5-2 cm long. You can also find it’s close relative, Lamium purpureum, known as purple dead nettle, so called for its purple top leaves. Both plants belong to Mint family, Lamiaceae. The family is distinguished by the square stalks and the opposite leaves of its representatives. The plants are not related to nettles, and are called “deadnettles” because their lack of stinging action.
Food: Deadnettles are not aromatic, like many mints, yet edible raw or cooked and very nutritious. The leaves, stem, and flowers of the plant are edible and are faintly reminiscent of spinach, when cooked. Raw, it is wonderful in salads, pesto and smoothies. Dead-nettle’s reported to be highly nutritious, abundant in iron, vitamins, and fiber.
Medicine: According to “Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland” by David E. Allen and Gabrielle Hatfield, in England, purple dead nettle was traditionally used as an infusion in wine for constipation, while in parts of Ireland it’s used for headaches and the rash associated with measles. In old European medicine, purple archangel was associated with the spleen and applied as compresses to treat melancholy.
The bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and aid in healing.The essential oil of Henbit is characterized by its high contents of germacrene D (Flamini). Germacrenes are a class of volatile organic hydrocarbons, and are typically produced in a number of plant species for their antimicrobial and insecticidal properties.
Composition of the essential oils and in vivo emission of volatiles of four Lamium species from Italy: L. purpureum, L. hybridum, L. bifidum and L. amplexicaule. Guido Flamini, Pier Luigi Cioni and Ivano Morelli, Food Chemistry, June 2005, Volume 91, Issue 1, Pages 63–68.