Purple dead nettle gets its name because it resembles stinging nettle, but it won’t sting you and the purple leaves make it appear to be dead. Thus the name “Purple Dead Nettle.” Even though, it is thought to resemble the stinging nettle it isn’t in the nettle family. It is in the mint family.
This plant is an aggressive, invasive alien plant that is well described by the translation of its Latin name,” Lamium purpureum.” Which is, “ the devouring purple monster.” I have seen fields that are covered with purple dead nettle that are several acres in size. Even though purple dead nettle is a major pest to some people it is useful in several ways. It is edible, it was used in medicine, and it is important to the bees.
It is high in vitamins, especially vitamin C, iron and fiber. Its seeds have powerful antioxidants. Since it is one of the first plants to bloom, it is one of the first wild plant that you can pick to add to your salads or soups. This is a plant that is in the mint family but doesn’t have a mint flavor. The purple leaves have a sweet taste while the stems and lower leaves have a floral taste. They can also be used to make tea and used in smoothies.
Its use in medicine goes back to the 17th century, when Nicholas Culpepper wrote about in his book “Cupepper’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies for Ancient Ills” and today it is being studied to find out how it is able to help in reducing allergies. It has antibacterial antifungal compounds that are of interest to the scientists. Our ancestors used it as a diuretic, as an astringent to stop small bleeds from minor injuries and its vitamin C and flavonoids help the body fight infection as well as other medical benefits that aren’t understood.
There is a way that we benefit from this plant that we wouldn’t think of an it is important.
By being one of the first plants to bloom it is one of the first plant the bees can get nectar from and they seem to prefer purple dead nettle over the other weeds. The early blooming plants are important to the bees to keep up their strength.
Purple dead nettle starts blooming as soon as it starts to warm and lasts until October. It likes to grow where the land has been disturbed, in waste places, along the roads and in your gardens. Enjoy them if you can.