purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)
purple dead nettle
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of purple dead-
nettle is Lamium purpureum L. The most distinctive characteristic of
purple dead nettle is the purple tint of the young leaves at the apex of
the stem. Lamium purpureum and Lamium amplexicaule (henbit) are
the only two species of Lamium reported occurring in Facquier County.
Henbit is a sprawling weedy plant with sessile leaves near the flowers,
while the same leaves of purple dead nettle have short petioles. All of
the species in this genus are native to Eurasia. The common name 'dead
nettle' refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those members of the
Nettle Family with stinging hairs. However, Lamium spp. lack stinging
hairs, therefore they are the safe, or 'dead,' nettles to be around. Another
common name for Lamium purpureum is 'red dead nettle.'
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This adventive plant is a winter or summer annual (usually the
former) that is unbranched and ½2½' tall. The central stem is strongly
4-angled and largely glabrous. The lower third of the stem in a mature
plant is often devoid of leaves.
Leaves: The opposite leaves are up to 2" long and across. They are
densely crowded together along the stem, each pair of leaves rotat-
ing 90° from the pair of leaves immediately below or above. Young
leaves at the apex of the stem are tinted purple, but they become dull
green with maturity. The leaves are broadly cordate or deltoid, crenate
along their margins, and finely pubescent. Their petioles are short.
The upper surface of each leaf has a reticulated network of indented
veins, creating a wrinkly appearance.
Flowers: Sessile whorls of flowers occur above the leaf axils, and a term-
inal whorl of flowers occurs at the apex of the stem. Each tubular flower
is about ½" long and has well-defined upper and lower lips. The lower lip
is divided into 2 rounded lobes, and there are insignificant side lobes that
are reduced in size to small teeth. The corolla is purplish pink, pink, or
white the upper lobe is usually a darker color than the lower lobe, which
is often white with purple spots. The tubular calyx is green or purplish
green, and has 5 slender teeth that spread outward slightly.
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by 4 nutlets.
Roots: The root system consists of a taproot. This plant occasionally
forms dense colonies by reseeding itself.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Purple deadnettle propogates itself
HABITAT TYPES: This plant is native to Eurasia. Habitats include
moist fallow fields, banks of ditches and drainage canals, gardens and
nursery plots, weedy edges of woodlands, and various kinds of waste
ground. Degraded sites with a history of disturbance are preferred.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Purple deadnettle typical growing con-
ditions are full sun to light shade and moist fertile soil. The foliage is little
bothered by disease and insect pests. This plant develops quickly during
the cool weather of spring.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period usually occurs
during mid- to late spring and lasts about 1½ months, although plants
that are summer annuals may bloom during the fall.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Purple deadnettle is a widely distri-
buted species that is common in the eastern parts of the United States
and Canada (excepting Florida and Newfoundland),and extends west
through the Ohio Valley and into the central Great Plains region. It is
absent from the northern Great Plains and some areas of the far south-
west, but the far western and northwestern parts of the United States
and Canada has reported the occurrence of purple deadnettle.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar of the purple deadnettle
flowers attracts long-tongued bees, including honeybees, bumblebees,
and Anthophorid bees. Another visitor sucking nectar from the flowers
was Bombylius major (giant bee fly), which also occurs in North Amer-
Crooked Run Valley