Weeds of the Month: Henbit and Purple Deadnettle

Weeds of the Month: Henbit and Purple Deadnettle


Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Common names: Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule L.
Purple deadnettle, Lamium purpureum L.
Life Cycle: Winter annual
Origin: Europe
Poisonous: No

Henbit and purple deadnettle are winter annual species of the same genus, and people frequently confused the two. Both species are often called henbit. These weeds germinate in the fall and sometimes in the spring. They are found throughout the eastern United States. These weeds thrive in both cool-season and warm-season forage grasses. Both species also grow in fine turf, orchards, gardens, landscapes, and cultivated crops.

Henbit flowers are pink to red and occur in clusters of 6 to 10 inches tall in the upper leaf stalks. Purple deadnettle flowers occur near the tops of the plant and are less purple than henbit flowers. The most striking difference is the upper leaves and stems of purple deadnettle are very red in appearance.

These weeds are relatively easy to control with several herbicides; however, mowing is ineffective. Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for herbicidal control in your area.

William W. Witt, PhD, a researcher in Plant and Soil Sciences, provided this information.

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