Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Lamiaceae or Mint Family


Low, sprawling plant, often forming mounds.  The purple green, triangular leaves are coarsely toothed.  The uppermost leaves are crowded and nearly stalkless.  Tiny, purple to red (rarely white) flowers peek out between the leaves.  Blooms from early spring into summer, and can even be found blooming in winter in sheltered spots.

Occasional in disturbed areas of the park, such as along the Bikeway, along trails and near bridges.  It is a native of Eurasia and a weed over much of the eastern U.S.

The tiny purple flowers peeking from the clusters of purplish leaves is distinctive.  Two other weeds are somewhat similar and live in similarly disturbed areas: henbit and ground ivy.  Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is more spreading, and has larger, bluer) flowers and heart-shaped leaves.  Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is a taller, erect plant that  does not have the crowded leaves of purple dead nettle.

White form
White deadnettle (Lamium album) is also similar, except for the color of the flowers. However, white deadnettle flowers are larger and differ in shape from those of purple deadnettle, and occur in longer, less leafy spikes. White deadnettle has not been reported from Virginia, but it is a weed and may someday reach us..

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