An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

March 6, 2011

Lovely Weeds - Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit)

In the past few weeks, I have been noticing some spectacular local fields covered in Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).  The color is what makes these acres so noteworthy - a ground level haze of purple pink,  fuchsia or even mauve depending on the light and at what stage the flowers are blooming.  I wanted to stop and take a few pictures of places on the way to work, but usually I am already running late, plus I would be taking my life into my hands pulling over during rush hour.  Yesterday, on the way back home from Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore, several photographic moments presented themselves in rural Northampton County, but without the threat of being run over.

Henbit is an Old World native occurring in Europe, western Asia and parts of North Africa.  Like other members of the mint family, this annual has square stems, and also like many of its relatives, it is extremely prolific.  The seeds germinate in the fall of the year with blooming occurring in late winter.  In many places Henbit has naturalized and is considered an invasive weed, particularly in agriculture where it prefers the same rich sandy loams farmers seek for their crops.  Judging from the state of the fields I saw, one would think Henbit was planted on purpose, and though it is indeed edible, I am sure it is an unwelcome crop.  A Google search yields many recipes and serving suggestions.  Unfortunately I recently had breakfast, so I did not indulge, but if you have eaten it, please let me know what you thought of it

Lamium amplexicaule (4)

Lamium amplexicaule (18)

Lamium amplexicaule

Lamium amplexicaule (16)

Lamium amplexicaule (11)

Please don't forget about my Winter Walk Off challenge.  It is open to all bloggers until 3/19, and I hope you will participate.  Right now there are only a few contestants, and I know you will not let them win the treasure chest of prizes without a decent fight.


  1. These are wonderful photos! I haven't eaten any henbit yet, but my daughter had some during a New Year's festival when she lived in Japan. She says the concoction (which included chick weed and turnips) "tasted very green." I guess it's the Japanese equivalent of our collards and black eyed peas - eaten for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

  2. Beautiful photos of this weed. I look at it as a harbinger of spring, so I kind of like it....that and I love purple.

  3. Les,

    Last week when we went to paddle the Lumber River, we saw lots of henbit in bloom. Maybe 30 or so acres all purple! I did not know it was edible. Been pulling it out of our greens.

  4. Weed or not, it is certainly stunning en masse! love that shot showing the tracks through the field...stunning!

  5. Lovely. Give me henbit. Take my chickweed.

  6. I love the vivid color of Henbit even if it is invasive. Beautiful images.

  7. From the looks of that field, it seems that an effective means of control would be to run over it with something.

  8. if you squint, you could imagine it is a field of saffron crocuses or lavender...good ole henbit.

  9. Les,
    Great shots of a lovely weed.

  10. It's beautiful. My weeds don't look that good.

  11. It certainly is the pretty one in the veggie garden.

  12. So that's what that's called!It hasn't started blooming around here yet but we'll soon have purple patches all over the place.

    Now, you pulled over on rte. 13 to shoot pictures and didn't get run over? Man, you're brace!

  13. Gorgeous fields of purple Les. It's an obnoxious weed but easily removed at least. :)

  14. Henbit is a difficult weed for me to pull out of the yard. I love its dainty blooms but I must pull away at it or it may take over such as the fields you show! Those fields are beautiful to the eye though…

  15. Michael,
    I would have likely felt at home, munus the chick weed, as turnip greens are my family's green of choice. Honestly, I prefer collards and kale.

    It seems to be unusually prolific here this year.

    Since my stop I have tried some and didn't find it bad, but I am not ready to eat a whole bowl.

    I liked those tracks too, and found it interesting the henbit did not grow there.

    Neither of these are a bad weed in my garden. Wild violets would be my worst.

    I agree with you. The color can't be beat.

    Maybe the tires were dipped in Round Up.

    It would be good if it smelled as nice as lavender.


    Neither do mine.

    Since you can eat it, maybe the veg garden is the place for it.

    I would do no such thing! I was on the Seaside Rd.

    I have never had trouble with it in the garden.

    They are more beautiful on other people's property.


  16. That's a glorious colour - I'd love to see it next to a field of oilseed rape, that would really wake up the retinas!

  17. Wow, those weeds are gorgeous. They remind me of fireweed and other invasives.

    Your winter walk off sounds like a wonderful idea unfortunately I cannot walk out my door. Everything is still glazed in inches of ice. Next week I will be posting a walk on the beach, where the tide washes away the snow and ice, but it's a half hour drive away.

  18. You might have to remind me about the winter walk off challenge again. I've slowed down on blogging a bit so it sometimes escapes me about doing these.

    I just got back from Huntsville this weekend and oh boy, the henbit was in full bloom there. My daughter who is TDY there loves it and was wondering what it was. I myself do like the purple fields but don't like henbit at all. It is one weed that does not do well in my shady garden. Not sure why but it hasn't taken over. Unlike the weed that has little white flowers and makes exploding seed capsules-that one does quite well and is enough thank you. Your pictures of this little weed are beautiful. So glad you got some and did not have to do it in rush hour!

  19. I love your photos...very nice. I confess I am ignorant about my weeds - now I know what to call the one with the purple flower! :)

  20. Hello Les, Carolyn from Carolyn's Shade Garden directed me to your blog and I'm so glad. What beautiful photographs of the henbit. I'm surrounded by farm fields where I live and I too find some of the weeds are just as pretty as the grains that are grown. I just wrote a post about walking around our community and will be adding it to your meme.

  21. What wonderful photos. I wish I knew more about plants. Guess if I lurk about in Blogs like yours I'll learn.

    Thanks a lot.

    Sybil in Eastern Passage, NS

  22. Thanks for the info on Henbit. I've seen that on our hill but nowhere near the numbers that are shown in your pictures. I happened to notice it in bloom today as I walked around for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day. Very interesting indeed.