One of the first Spring weeds to pop up is Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) . I’m sure you’ve seen it, even if you didn’t know what it was. While part of the mint family, henbit doesn’t smell particularly mint-y, but it’s still very fragrant.
While it is perfectly safe for us, it can cause issues with horses, sheep and cattle. (All the more reason for us to eat it!)
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is identified by it’s pink-purpleish flowers, and opposite pairs of heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. It usually grows to between 4-10 inches tall.
A very similar look alike, is Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum). Where Henbit’s sets of leaves are spread out along the stem, Purple Dead Nettle’s triangular leaves grow almost overlapping. Purple Dead Nettle’s leaves will be green towards the bottom of the plant, and become purple towards the top.
Regardless of which you find (Henbit or Purple Dead Nettle) they are both edible and used in a similar fashion. So pick them all!
Chickens and humming birds love Henbit. It’s one of the first nectar-producing weed to appear in early Spring, even before dandelions, so unless it is a risk to your livestock, leave it for the bees.
Henbit was a very appreciated Spring Green in early times, as it comes early, and is full of iron and vitamins; just what we need after a long Winter.
There are no poisonous look alikes, so it’s one of the safer spring greens to harvest.
The stems, leaves and flowers are all edible. You can add it raw to salads, soups, or smoothies, or use it to replace spinach in any of your favorite recipes. The leaves can also be dried and used as a tea. Supposedly, Henbit is anti-rheumatic, a laxative and a stimulant.