Remember, never eat anything you are not 100% sure of. I take no responsibility for what happens to you if you eat something you incorrectly identify.
Henbit- Lamium amplexicaule, is a very common naturalized “weed” closely related to Dead Nettle. They often grow intertwined together and have similar small, purple orchid-like flowers. It has become widely naturalized in North America.
Henbit both sprawls and is somewhat upright. It has squarish stems similar to mint with leave that form in pair on either side of the stem. The leaves are roundish with sort of frilly edges. They are also somewhat fuzzy. The stems grow upright until the weight of the stem cause the portions closest to the ground start becoming horizontal with only the ends remaining vertical.
It is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and is an important food source for early emerging honey bees. These plants are often one of the three plants that give fields and lawns that purple haze in the spring and early summer.
Henbit, like it’s cousin Dead Nettle, is edible raw or cooked. It grows in great profusion in the spring and is widely available. This is one of the wild edibles I often point people towards when they tell me they want to eat Poke. Why would you want to eat a known poison like Poke that has to be boiled with several changes of water (what would even be left to eat from that?!?!) when there are several non- toxic options that are more readily available sooner?
A lovely meal of Henbit, Dead Nettle and either Smartweed (Ladies Thumb) or Chickweed is easy, and can be eaten raw. These plants are some of the first to green up as soon as the weather warms.
If you can get some of those delightful violetta flowers that are also common in the early spring, it can be eaten as a light salad. All of those greens also take to heat very well and can be used in the place of anything that calls for spinach or kale.
Henbit, much like chickweed, got its name because chickens LOVE IT. Chickens will devour anything green, honestly, but they have a “pecking order” to their preference on food. They will go for Chickweed first, then Henbit and Dead Nettle, then clover and then anything else that has the nerve to be green in their presence. As well as anything that doesn’t run away fast enough.
This is one of those weeds that grows everywhere, and is a great source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Be careful where you harvest; make sure it isn’t a brownfield or anything. It really is rather tasty.