Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit)

Plant Info
Also known as: Henbit Deadnettle
Genus:Lamium
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; gardens, agricultural margins, roadsides, railroads, sidewalks, lawns, waste areas
Bloom season:May - October
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in whorls of 4 to 10 at the top of the plant and at leaf axils in the upper half of the stem. Individual flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long, pinkish-purple, irregular with 2 lips at the end of a long, slender tube. The upper lip is rounded like a hood, darker colored than the tube and densely covered in short hairs. The lower lip is sac-like, cleft into 2 spreading, oblong lobes. The small lateral lobes and lower lobes are white near the mouth of the sac, spotted with dark pinkish-purple. Inside the tube are 4 stamens. The calyx surrounding the base of the tube is 5-lobed, densely hairy, and up to about 1/3 inch long.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, up to 1 inch long and nearly as wide, hemispheric to nearly round to kidney-shaped, rounded at the tip, straight across to somewhat wedge-shaped at the base, with rounded teeth along the edges and sometimes with a few shallow lobes. Surfaces are sparsely hairy; lower leaves are stalked, becoming stalkless about midway up the stem and reduced to bracts on the upper stem. Stems are erect to ascending, square, rough-textured from minute stiff hairs, green to reddish, and typically many-branched near the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The calyx persists and holds 4 bristly nutlets, each containing a single seed.

Notes:

Henbit is a garden escapee that is not yet very widespread in Minnesota, but is considered invasive in many areas of the US. Best to nip this one in the bud! It is likely already more widespread than the distribution map indicates—one of my own neighbors has been battling volunteers in his yard for some years now. An annual, a single plant generates hundreds of seeds which stay viable for several years. The seeds drop near the mother plant and masses of seedlings can pop up the following spring. There are no Lamium species native to North America, but there are several introduced species (not counting the numerous cultivars) available in the nursery trade, all of which may escape cultivation. Yellow Deadnettle (Lamium galeobdolon) and Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) have already arrived here. Henbit is more or less the size of Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea), but with larger flowers that are more pinkish-purple and have longer tubes. The spot pattern on Henbit flowers is also different, with the single dots on the lateral lobes and a larger dot near the base of the split lower lobe always reminding me of a face on some strange cartoon character. So my new common name is Cartoon Flower :-)

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County and the MN Landscape Arboretum. Photo by KENPEI, via Wikimedia Commons, used under CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo by Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org, used under CC BY-NC 3.0.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joan M S - Minneapolis
on: 2017-11-28 10:24:07

I believe it is growing in the Mississippi River flood plain, along the walking path, below East River Road, between Franklin and Lake Street. Two plants are green among the brown, today Nov 28, 2017. One is garlic mustard and the other - I think it is henbit.

Posted by: John - Virginia
on: 2018-01-17 08:31:14

I have read in gardening literature that box turtles eat the foliage. Honey bees and hummingbirds also use the nectar for early spring feeding. Might be something to consider the next time you look to eradicate.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-01-19 05:55:44

John in Virginia: your arguments don't carry much weight. 1. box turtles eat many things; 2. honey bees are first, not native and second, generalists so will feed on many things; 3. what did hummingbirds nectar on before henbit came to Minnesota landscapes? Restoring native flora is the best response to all of the things you mention, as it will have more far-reaching benefits to a wide array of native insects and wildlife.

Posted by: Desie Mendenhall - Moorhead
on: 2020-09-16 00:08:16

I have it growing in my yard. I'm planning on transplanting it to a pot because I think it's pretty. It just popped up a couple of years ago.

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