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Article: More Wascally Winter Weeds! Henbit, Purple Deadnettle, and Chickweed: henbit, deadnettle and chickweed

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Forum: Article: More Wascally Winter Weeds! Henbit, Purple Deadnettle, and ChickweedReplies: 2, Views: 61
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barbobbi
Bloomington, IN

April 26, 2010
5:50 AM

Post #7737900

Your article could hardly have come at a more apposite time for me. After a couple of years of ill-health on my part, my garden has gone to wrack and ruin with only someone hired in to mow as needed. As you may imagine, all manner of weeds have flourished, including, I believe, all three of these and only yesterday I had out my reference books to confirm the identity of these familiar weeds. The henbit was easy, though my guide book (Peterson's) seems to call it gill-over-the-ground. Are they the same plant or am I astray? If not, how do you distinguish them?

I am in a little doubt about the chickweed. Here it grows in both a thick, round clump and long stems snaking through the grass. It's been cold and wet here so I couldn't find any open flowers to clinch the ID. By your photos, it looks more like the mouse-ear to me.

I'm not sure still about the purple deadnettle but your photos and description are the closest I have found to my plant. The most distinctive thing about this one is that the leaves can be a dark purplish green, sometimes almost black-looking. The leaves are more rounded than shown in Peterson's which also shows it flowering only at the top. Mine flowers all up the stem, close on top of the paired leaves, as Peterson's shows for woundwort and motherwort though the leaf shape for these is wrong. I actually find this to be a very attractive plant which could be worth cultivating. It does spread all over the place but doesn't seem to crowd out other plants as some weeds do and the square, upright stems covered with the dark purple blossoms make a brave show scattered around the lawn or down a hill. It's rife in my neighborhood and from a distance can even be mistaken for a stand of grape hyacinth! At least to my failing eyes! Also, even when it is not blooming, the dark shiny leaves make an attractive groundcover.

My back yard is very shady, sparcely grassed at the best of times and borders a small woodland. After finding adder's tongue, trout lily, columbine and something which might be some kind of angelica (purple-brown stem, fern-like leaves and flat cluster of white blooms) growing there, I may well abandon lawn altogether and turn it into a wildflower shade garden. What I have mostly there now besides early bulbs is hosta, soloman's seal and lily of the valley which would fit in well with the new design!

Thank you so much for your timely, informative article! I have one more unidentified weed but I am holding that back till I have checked out the other weed ID articles here at Dave's.
snowlion
Saint Paul, MN
(Zone 4b)

April 26, 2010
8:17 AM

Post #7738439

barbobbi wrote: my guide book (Peterson's) seems to call it gill-over-the-ground. Are they the same plant or am I astray? If not, how do you distinguish them?

Gill-(go)-over-the-ground is a common name going way back for creeping Charlie or ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea). If you crush the leaves and stalk it has a faint balsamic odor; it was used in making beer/ale at one time. In my area (MN) it rises up off the ground only when in flower in early spring. From the article, it sounds like henbit flowers all season.

barbobbi wrote: something which might be some kind of angelica (purple-brown stem, fern-like leaves and flat cluster of white blooms) ...

To me, especially with the description of your yard (woodsy, slightly damp tendency), I am thinking this plant is sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata). It is similar in scent and flavor to angelica; people used to candy the stems, leaves and flowers. It makes long black seeds after flowering. It's also very similar to chervil in the leaf feathery-ness. The leaves taste like they have been sugared. It is considered a native in the Midwest; you may find it multiplying happily in your yard. Drought can kill it off.

Happy weeding! It sounds like your yard is creating a special garden just for you. Every year as it develops something new will be there to delight you. I have heard of a person who allowed weeds in one area who eventually had a lovely wild rose growing there. Nature does the most splendid things.
CrowMeris
Greene, NY

May 2, 2010
9:30 PM

Post #7758892

All these grow quite happily in our lawn, and we are happy to let them be. Fortunately we live in the middle of nowhere, and have neither neighbors nor soybean farmers to complain about our willingness to let them grow.
Our rabbits seem to be quite contented munching on them, as well as most (but not all) of the other "weeds" we allow living space. We'll never win the county's greenest lawn contest, but we're rewarded instead by color and textural variety: Dutch and mammoth red clovers, dandelions, sweet woodruff, oat, rye, and wheat grown as grasses, plantains, purslanes, wild lupine, dock, a lamium cultivar (Beacon Silver) that has escaped into the wild, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon - far too many to name. This lawn is a sunny meadow flowing to a deeply-shaded woodland margin - we are so blessed to have such a marvelous variety of plants.

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Other Article: More Wascally Winter Weeds! Henbit, Purple Deadnettle, and Chickweed Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
dead nettie heygeno 3 Apr 26, 2010 4:04 PM
oh...deadnettle! ratlover1 1 Apr 26, 2010 6:36 PM
Tree Peony edcd 2 Apr 28, 2010 9:24 AM
Chickweed patgeorge 2 May 2, 2010 2:03 PM
Sore all over... Rookerie 1 Apr 26, 2010 2:50 PM


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