Lamium purpureum-Dead Nettle

Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 4-8-18, #423-17.


Dead Nettle, Purple Deadnettle or Dead Nettle, Red Nettle, Red Henbit, Purple Nettle, Archangel, Etc.

Lamium purpureum

LAY-mee-um  pur-PUR-ee-um

Synonyms of Lamium purpureumLamiopsis purpurea (L.) Opiz

Lamium purpureum L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for Henbit. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Accepted infraspecific names of Lamium purpureum and synonyms: Lamium purpureum var. ehrenbergii (Boiss. & Reut.) Mennema (Syn. Lamium ehrenbergii Boiss. & Reut., Lamium purpureum var. hybridum (Vill.) Vill. (Syn. Lamium hybridum Vill.); Lamium purpureum var. incisum (Willd.) Pers. (Syns. Lamium aeolicum Lojac., Lamium confusum Martrin-Donos, Lamium dissectum With., Lamium felixii L.C.Lamb., Lamium incisum Willd., Lamium urticifolium Weihe ex Rchb., Mentha incisa Humn.); Lamium purpureum var. moluccellifolium Schumach. (Syn. Lamium moluccellifolium (Schumach.) Fr.); Lamium purpureum var. purpureum (Syns. Lamium albiflorum Schur, Lamium boreale Druce, Lamium coesfeldiae Weihe ex Rchb., Lamium decipiens Sond. ex Martrin-Donos, Lamium durandoi Pomel, Lamium foetidum Garsault, Lamium foetidum Gilib., Lamium guestphalicum Weihe ex Nyman, Lamium nudum Crantz, Lamium ocimifolium Sm.).

Plants of the World Online lists 29 accepted species in the Lamium genus (as of 2-26-20 when I am updating this page. The genus is a member of the Lamiaceae Family with 235 accepted genera. Those numbers could change.


Distribution map of Lamium purpureum from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved on February 21, 2020.

The above distribution map of Lamium purpureum is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green show where the species is native, purple is where it has been introduced, and gold is where it is doubtful. The USDA Plants Database map is the same for North America.

There are more links at the bottom of the page for further reading and to help with ID.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 4-22-18, #428-4.

Lamium purpureum is considered a winter annual with square stems and petiolate, kind of heart-shaped leaves. Plants start flowering in March and continue through May then fizzle out. They go dormant during the heat of the summer then their seeds germinate in the fall.

The Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) is growing in several colonies in the yard and isn’t near as abundant as the Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit). I think this plant is the showiest of the two species once they start flowering.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 4-23-18, #429-2.



Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 4-10-19, #559-3.



Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 2-21-20, #670-6.

The photo above is of young plants before flowering. At this time, its leaves are similar to young plants of Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit), and leaves of Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy). It is virtually impossible to tell them apart since they all grow in the same areas and like the same conditions. Once flowering begins and the leaves change shape there is no problem. The Lamium species leaves change while Glechoma hederacea remains basically the same.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 3-3-20, #673-9.

On March 3 (2020) I noticed some of the Lamium amplexicaule and purpureum were beginning to flower. It looks like the flowers are peeking out from under the leaves.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 3-3-20, #673-10.

The upper heart-shaped leaves start to grow longer as the plant matures and starts to droop downward.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 3-3-20, #673-11.

Lamium purpureum grows more upright once they start flowering, in my experience. Their 4-angled stems are a maroonish color but more green toward the top. Stems usually branch out at the bottom and as the plants grow the lower 1/3 will have no leaves as they mature. As you can see by the above photo, the petioles and stems are “glabrous to slightly pubescent” which means smooth to slightly hairy.


Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) on 3-3-20, #673-12.

The above photo was taken on March 3 (2020) and shows the heart-shaped, purplish tinted leaves of the Lamium purpureum. As the plants mature, many changes take place…

The leaves of young plants will be very similar to Lamium amplexicaule, kind of heart-shaped with petioles, their heavily veined leaves having a wrinkly appearance. Young leaves may have a purplish tint which become green in time. Upper leaves will have shorter petioles and become longer and more pointed which droop downward. Leaves are finely pubescent (fine hairs). The maroonish tint of the upper leaves will persist but fades to green as the plants grow taller.

I will take more photos of the flowers, but right now they are just starting to bloom. Flowers are very similar to Lamium amplexicaule which I have photos of. The upper petal of the flower resembles a hood while the lower petal splits and looks like there are two. The flowers are a combination of pale purple, pinkish and white. The lower petals have maroon spots. Other photos online that are very close-up show teeth… I haven’t been able to get that close without the photos being blurry.


Lamium purpureum on 3-9-20, #675-1.

Even though today (3-9-20) was rainy, I went outside to take a few photos of the Lamium purpureum that had started to flower.


Lamium amplexicaule on the left and Lamium purpureum on the right, 3-9-20, #675-2.

While I was at it I took a photo of the two Lamium species for a comparison photo. The tubes of the flowers of Lamium amplexicaule are much longer (at this point anyway) and the flowers are darker, especially the hood.

I will continue taking photos and adding better descriptions. It is better with photos.:) Several of the links below show better photos and have “technical” descriptions. I prefer to explain in layman’s terms.

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you.