Thursday, February 23, 2012

Greetings, Henbit Deadnettle

We don't spray stuff on our lawn.  On occasion, I will sprinkle some fertilizer pellets, but that is pretty rare.  We never spray weeds.  This is partly because I realize that anything that goes on the lawn ends up in our drinking water, partly because the weed-to-grass ratio is not that important to me and mainly because those chemicals are expensive!

My weed control consists of me bending over and hand weeding the front yard during the February-August months.  I would probably just let them be, except that they grow much faster than the grass, which makes the yard look unkempt and means I need to mow more often.  Plus, I really like spending time pulling the weeds.  It's therapeutic.

There is some debate about what makes a weed, a weed?  Some people talk about whether that plant is difficult to get rid of, or whether it is native to their location.  A common definition is simply a plant that you don't want growing there.  Far from technical, but usually accurate.  There are two major weeds that I deal with in our front yard and a different one in our backyard.  That alone is pretty interesting to me.  Why do I see these weeds all over town, but the two that are in our front yard aren't present in our backyard and vice-versa?  Puzzling.

I passed a yard on my way to work this morning that was a sea of purple.  This is one of the weeds that I contend with in our front yard.  It got me to thinking about how Christie has commented that she thinks the purple flowers are pretty.  Like many wildflowers in our area, if you look closely at a single specimen, the weedy foliage dominates the paltry flowers, but in mass, the sea of color can be quite nice.  I'm pretty sure that she's on the same page as me, when it comes to pulling these weeds, ultimately, because they do make our yards look horrible, as they start to get big.

This morning, after I passed that yard carpeted in purple, I started thinking about how utterly rude it has been for me to uproot these weeds all these years and never introduce myself.  Can you believe, I've been pulling these weeds and tossing them on the scalding pavement in the middle of summer, roasting them to smithereens so that there is no way they could come back and invade my yard, and yet I didn't even know their names!?!

So I dedicated myself to the quest of learning the name of my nemesis.  At all costs, I would know my foe.  I didn't care if it took driving to the Ag Sciences County Extension Office with samples of this plant so they could run the DNA and match it to their database of beautiful lawn saboteurs and other botanical miscreants.

Of course, about 2 minutes of Google searches brought me an answer.  Now I know the one I hunt.

Greetings, Henbit Deadnettle.  I am Zach DuFran, but you can call me Zach, or Worthy Adversary, whichever you prefer.  What's that?  You prefer I call you Lamium amplexicaule?  No problem.  I respect your desire to honor your Latin heritage.

Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule) - from wikipedia

Did I mention that I learned my adversary is edible?


  1. Hmmm...looks like a teensy tiny orchid flower. Looking forward to how you think it tastes in your salad. :)

  2. I just identified Henbit today! It's groniwg all over my garden. I've been puling it up as a weed for years, but finally decided to let it grow, even before I knew what it was, this year. The flowers are small, but when there is a lot of it groniwg in a patch, it is barely visible and is a nice addition to my Wild Garden.I will be drying as much Henbit as I can and storing for future use as Medicinal Tea. I'm also groniwg lots of Stinging Nettle, Calendulas and trying to establish Dandelions, all for Herbal Teas.I've also recently started eating Chickweed, which grows all over my garden, but doesn't last very long.