Monday, March 23, 2015

Eating the Weeds - Purple Dead Nettle (and Henbit)

Tammy over at 500 Dollar Tomato did a post on her weed problem.  I clicked on the picture and it was Purple Dead Nettle (or Henbit...or both).  What a coincidence as I had a draft post on it in the works.

I just recently read somewhere that Purple Dead Nettle was made into a tea and used to combat allergies.  My daughter is especially sniffly and occasionally snotty during late winter and early spring as the Eastern Red Cedar (i.e. Juniper) is blasting it's pollen everywhere.  Unfortunately, we have plenty cedars here so it's pretty tough for her this time of year.

The PDN isn't very tall yet, but I know for a fact that it grows all along our driveway and there are patches of it in the garden.
Purple Dead Nettle
Purple Dead Nettle flowers kinda-close-up.
It, along with it's close look-alike, Henbit, are common "weeds" here and I am constantly pulling Henbit from the garden beds.  I've used Henbit in scrambled eggs or omelettes in the early spring just to get some fresh greens in our diet, but they aren't much to write home about.  Green?  Yes?  Chock full of vitamins?  Yes.  Flavorful?  Nope.  But I still add them to our breakfast on occasion just so I get some satisfaction out of the fact that I'm able to use these stupid things for something.
Henbit with flower buds.
The open flowers look almost identical to PDN.
Anyways.  Back to the PDN.  Since there isn't much to harvest yet, I've haven't made any tea yet, although I have eaten a few of the leaves. It pretty much tastes like grass.  Fuzzy grass.  I much prefer the Henbit, and I'm not even crazy about that.  But I don't intend on eating it, but gathering the PDN for tea and I figure if I put enough honey in it, all will be well.  I'll take the tea for a few days before I give any to Rhiannon, and even just a few days worth may not be enough to discern if it's doing anything to help with the allergy problem, but I figure it can't hurt.

Well, hopefully not.  I'll let you know when I start drinking it and if you don't hear from me in a few days.....


  1. Good idea to test it out on yourself first. I have a very slow metabolism, but Papa Pea has a very fast metabolism. So when trying any wild green or something we're not familiar with I always make him eat it first 'cause if it's not fit for human consumption, it will . . . um, er, ah . . . go right through him quickly. Maybe not the most scientific method (Or safest? Hee-hee.) . . . but he always volunteers. :o]

    1. That made me laugh Mama Pea! A husband that is willing to 'try' something first is definitely a keeper!

  2. Interesting. My entire yard is covered with both. Those two and cheat grass are the bane of my existence!

  3. I'm drinking nettle for allergies, but have to buy it right now. It simply says "nettle" on the bag. Are there different types of nettle?

  4. Both are very important forage weeds for bees as they are one of the first to bloom in the early spring. I also feed both to my rabbits.

  5. Hm...Looks like you're right. The article I read said if it has a square stem it's henbit but it sure looks more like the PDN picture with the leaves. I suppose it doesn't really matter but Weekend Homesteader is right! I noticed bees on the flowers so only pulled in the raised bed areas since that's what I'll be planting up first. The inground areas can feed the bees until May planting.