Dead Nettle…

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Lamium Purpureum

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Dead-Nettle (lamium purpureum)

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From the Hiker’s Notebook:
“Purple dead-nettle (lamium purpureum) is an extremely common lawn and roadside weed. It will carpet huge areas, and grow to be quite lush in fertile soil. It’s a short-lived annual that will grow and flower even in the winter with mild temperatures. It’s in the mint family, so it’s a very mild mint – look closely at the stem and you can see it’s square, or 4-sided, instead of round or cylindrical.

 

Sometimes mint stems can be so hairy the best way to tell the stem is square is to  feel it with your fingers. You’ll feel the edges.The entire plant is edible. The flavor is very mild, grassy – you can eat it stem and all, or pluck off the leafy tops. The leaves are covered in a dense hairy down – and this can take away some from the mild flavor.Dead-nettle’s reported to be highly nutritious, abundant in iron, vitamins, and fiber. The oil in the seeds is high in antioxidants. And the bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and aid in healing.”

Dead Nettle growing in the pot to the left of the front door.  Fitting for a Grave yard relic.
Sustainable Living:

General Characteristics

Purple dead nettle is a short lived annual in the mint family (Lamiaceae ).  Usually growing no larger than 1ft in height, it has squared stems (characteristic of mint family) and soft fuzzy leaves  with a opposite leaf arrangement.  Leaves also have a bit of purple in them.  Flowers are pink/purple and very small.

Edible Uses

The leaves, stem, and flowers are all edible.  Purple dead nettle is very nutritious being high in iron, vitamins, and fiber.  It can be eaten raw as a salad green or cooked.  Try boiling in water for 20-30 minutes, drain, and season to taste.  Collect when in flower for fresh eating or for storage by drying.

Medicinal Uses

The entire plant is an astringent, styptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, and purgative.  A decoction can be made to help with hemorrhaging and the freshly bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts.  Make a tea to use as a laxative or tonic by adding 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried herb to 1 cup hot water and steep for 10 minutes.  Strain and drink in 1/2 cup doses.

Photo credits: Sin Jones, House of Sin, Forest Lawn Cemetary
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