Cold-Weather Foraging for Hardy Henbit Greens


| 1/21/2015 10:21:00 AM


Tags: Leda Meredith, foraging, edible wild plants, wildcrafting, New York,

Growing on at least three continents and available to forage even when there's snow on the ground, henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and other plants in the Lamium genus are a too-often ignored wild winter food.

Edible Lamium 

How to Recognize Henbit and Other Edible Lamiums

All Lamiums are in the mint family, and like other members of the Lamiaceae have square stems (roll a stem between your forefinger and thumb and you'll feel the four distinct sides) and opposite leaves (the leaves attach to the stem in aligned pairs).

The leaves of both henbit and other edible, similar looking plants in the Lamium genus (all of which share the unfortunate common name deadnettle) are 1/2 to 2 inches wide, and can be oval, spade or heart-shaped. The leaves have deeply scalloped margins. Henbit leaves attach directly to the stems and the upper leaf pairs can appear at first glance to be one round leaf surrounding the stem. Other Lamium species have short leaf stalks, but the leaf shape is similar. The deep veins give them an almost quilted appearance. There are hairs on the leaves.

The pink or purple flowers grow in whorls in the leaf axils (where the leaves join the stems). The petals of each small flower are fused into a 1/2- to 2/3-inch tube.

Henbit and other dead nettles are low-growing plants. The lower stems sprawl on the ground and can root where they touch soil. But the last few inches of the stems usually grow upright. Henbit likes disturbed soils and often shows up as a garden and farm weed.




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