Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) is a herbaceous plant native to Europe and Asia. Though superficially similar to a nettle in appearance, it is not related and does not sting, hence the name "deadnettle". Outside of its native range, it is a common weed of cultivated areas; it is listed as an invasive species in some parts of North America.
It grows to 5-20 cm (rarely 30 cm) in height. The leaves are green at the bottom and shade to purplish at the top; they are 2-4 cm long and broad, with a 1-2 cm petiole (leaf stalk), and wavy to serrated margins. It is often found alongside Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), which is easily mistaken for it since they both have similar looking leaves and similar bright purple flowers; they can be distinguished by the stalked leaves of Red Deadnettle on the flower stem, compared to the unstalked leaves of Henbit Deadnettle.
The flowers are bright red-purple, and may be produced throughout the year, including mild weather in winter. This allows bees to gather its nectar for food when few other nectar sources are available. It is also a prominent source of pollen for bees in March/April (in UK), when bees need the pollen as protein to build up their nest.
Young plants have edible tops and leaves, good in salads or in stirfry as a spring vegetable. If finely chopped it can also be used in sauces.
Pests and Diseases