Spring wants to hide but the garden shows signs of growth. Not necessarily all imposing beauty. With a little bit here and a little bit there, here a bit, there a bit, everywhere a Henbit; Carole’s Garden has the woes, ee I ee I oh!
Note heart-shaped scalloped leaves that grasp the stem.
The henbit is a member of the mint family. All mints that smell like a mint and look like a mint are edible, but they must do both. There are a lot of mints that only smell minty, some of them are edible and some of them are not. In fact, some of the mints can make you ill.
Henbit does not smell minty, but it is an edible mint. By the way, there are no poisonous look alikes. As for toxicity, we’re safe but it has causes “staggers” in sheep, horses, and cattle.
Its botanical name, Lamium amplexicaule (LAM-ee-um am-plex-i-kaw-lee) causes much confusion. As usual, there isn’t much problem with the species name, amplexicaule, which means “clasping” or in this case how the leaves grab the stem. It’s the genus name, Lamium, that causes problems. Most writers say it is Greek through Latin then define it to mean a thin layer, plate or scale, or in this case the corolla tube between two lips. Unfortunately, that is not correct. And at this point remember that another common name for Henbit is Giraffe Head.
The plant dislikes the sun, which is a delightful thought. If you don’t care to crawl around on your knees in spring, the hot summer sun will kill it out. It has a very shallow root system, however, so if it is not a major invasion, a firm but gentle tug will produce good results. Growth between sidewalk seams, of course, can be attacked with a week killer, but better to yank in the garden if you wish to protect your neighboring plants.
Not everyone is bothered by the sight of Henbit. I know people who have written poetry and verse on the topic. It is quite eye-pleasing in an open field, particularly once it flourishes with purple blossoms.
With Henbit here and Henbit there, here a bit, there a bit, everywhere a Henbit, I, for now, shall continue my song of ee I ee I, woe.