Dead Nettle, Purple Deadnettle or Dead Nettle, Red Nettle, Red Henbit, Purple Nettle, Archangel, Etc.
(Lamium purpureum var. purpureum)
Synonyms of Lamium purpureum: (1) (Updated on 5-15-21 from Plants of the World Online): Lamiopsis purpurea (L.) Opiz
Synonyms of Lamium purpureum var. purpureum (11) (Updated on 5-15-21): 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., Lamium purpureum var. decipiens Sond. ex W.D.J.Koch
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 (5) (Updated on 5-15-21): Lamium purpureum var. ehrenbergii (Boiss. & Reut.) Mennema, Lamium purpureum var. hybridum (Vill.) Vill., Lamium purpureum var. incisum (Willd.) Pers., Lamium purpureum var. moluccellifolium Schumach., Lamium purpureum var. purpureum (Autonym). Lamium purpureum var. purpureum is the “type-specimen). When infraspecific taxon are named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. I am not sure how the species and type-specimen can have different synonyms…
Plants of the World Online lists 29 accepted species in the Lamium genus (as of 5-15-21 when I last updated this page. It is a member of the plant family Lamiaceae with 236 accepted genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made by POWO.
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.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
Lamium purpureum is one of the first wildflowers to bloom on the farm in the spring. I think the first is probably Veronica persica (Bird’s Eye Speedwell) which you might not notice because they are so tiny.
Both Lamium amplexicaule and Lamium purpureum grow in abundance here and there They do very well in areas where the grass is mowed so they can have their way in the spring. Actually, they grow so thick in some areas the grass doesn’t have a chance.
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. Depending on their climate, Lamium purpureum can also be a summer annual.
Lamium purpureum was named after the purple-tinted leaves at the top of the stems. Lamium species are members of the Nettle Family, Lamiaceae, but do not have stinging hairs. Thus, species in the Lamium genus are considered dead nettles, which just happens to be one of the common names for this species.
In layman’s terms, the flowers have an upper and a lower lip. The lower lips are divided into two lobes and there are also very small side lobes. I need to keep trying to take good close-ups of the flowers but they always come out blurry… Even with two magnifying glasses… 🙂 It is hard to write descriptions when there is no photo.
Although information suggests Lamium purpureum can grow to 2 1/2′ tall, I haven’t seen any on the farm past around 10-12″. Smaller plants are kind of sprawly but then grow upright to become quite impressive plants in the right conditions…
I started getting more into wildflower ID in 2019 and started taking more detailed photos and writing about them.
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 for an amateur (like me) 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. Plants growing in full sun fizzle out during the summer as temperatures rise and it doesn’t rain as much. The Lamium amplexicaule can take the heat better and even grows in the grass in some areas. The Lamium purpureum does best and grows taller along buildings. The Glechoma hederacea prefers the front yard under the maple trees in the shade where they last all summer into fall.
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.
The upper heart-shaped leaves start to grow longer as the plant matures and starts to droop downward.
Lamium purpureum grows more upright once they start flowering. Their 4-angled stems (square) 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 be absent of leaves. As you can see by the above photo, the petioles and stems are “glabrous to slightly pubescent” which means smooth to slightly hairy.
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 grow in an opposite manner along the stems, each pair rotating 90° from the pair below.
It had been raining when I took these photos on March 9 but I wanted to get photos anyway. 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 (on the left) were much longer and the flowers are darker, especially the hood. Notice the leaves of the Lamium amplexicaule are more frilly looking.
At this stage, on March 21 in 2020, the leaves have longer petioles (stem between the leaf and the plant’s stem). This will change as plants mature.
Typically, plants produce a terminal cluster of flowers “near” the top of the stems (apex). This is odd because most of the plants I photograph do not have a terminal cluster of flowers because they just keep growing. Most of the plants I photographs show flowers produced above the leaf axils (where the petiole emerges at the nodes). Ummm… Each flower is surrounded by bractlets but they are easily missed…
The above photo shows branches coming from the leaf nodes…
In layman’s terms, the leaves are broad, kind of triangular or heart-shaped (cordate), with scalloped (crenate) margins. The leaves have a lot of veins which give them a wrinkly appearance. The leaves will become longer as plants mature and the upper leaves will take on the purplish color.
The undersides of the leaves show a different view of the heavily veined leaves. Both leaf surfaces are densely pubescent with fine hairs.
The above photo shows lower flowers emerging at the leave axils… Can you see the bractlets?
The above shows plants with leaves that have gotten a little longer and more pointed.
In an area north of the chicken house, east of the garden, the grass doesn’t grow. Early spring in this area comes alive with Lamium amplexicaule, Lamium purpureum, and Glechoma hederacea. They don’t grow well in this spot, but they flower up a storm which leads to more seeds. SO, they persist year after year. Once it get hot, this area becomes a big bare spot.
The Lamium purpureum is in heaven along the south side of the chicken house. The conditions are just right and they grow to about a foot tall.
I think the photos above were taken of a colony between the back deck and basement steps on the east side of the house…
This is kind of a neat photo with the flowers peeking out between the leaves.
Here we go… A comparison between Lamium purpureum on left and Glechoma hederacea on the right.
This is the same area as photo #683-29. I must have circled around and noticed the Glechoma… GEEZ!
THEN, on April 11 when I came back from a walk to the back of the farm, I noticed something weird north of the pond in the small clearing close to the fence. I could hardly believe my eyes! Lamium purpureum with white flowers! I had never seen them here before…
Descriptions of their flowers indicate they can be pale pink, lavender, pinkish-purple, or white. This was really something and a real surprise…
They are basically like albinos. Even the leaves are very light green… You just never know what nature will show you.
OK… Here they are. On this damaged plant you can clearly see the bracts without the flowers present. You don’t notice these so much because we are always looking at the flowers and leaves. These bracts surround the flowers and have five outward spreading teeth…
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 otherwise I just as well copy and paste. But then I would have to use the glossary to figure out what I wrote.
So, in 2021, the goal is to get some good close-up flower photos…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
EDIBLE WILD FOOD
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates (and if they update their sources or even read what they say). Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂