Tips For Identifying & Harvesting Wild Henbits
Lamium amplexicaule L. , common name: henbit deadnettle
|Kingdom Plantae – Plants|
|Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants|
|Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants|
|Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants|
|Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons|
|Family Lamiaceae – Mint family|
|Genus Lamium L. – deadnettle|
|Species Lamium amplexicaule L. – henbit deadnettle|
Wild Edible fans and Foragers (and those of us who are wannabe’s), it’s that time of year again! Henbits and Purple Deadnettle are popping up everywhere. They sprout up very early in the year and their growing season is very short. By June I can’t find any.
I have tons of both growing in my yard. Today I was just taking a country drive and I happened to see bunches growing so I decided to stop and capture a video to share some tips with you.
When to harvest Henbits:
Henbits are an herbaceous winter annual. They usually start popping up as soon as the snow has melted here (Ohio), and they are gone by mid June at the latest.
Where to find Henbits to harvest:
Henbits are very common to find in your own yard as well as roadsides, parks and fields. They’re considered a ‘weed’ and a nuisance to most people, but man are they delicious! Even though they are a member of the mint family, they don’t have a strong or distinctive smell but are easy to identify year after year.
How to identify Henbits:
Henbits are easy to spot. There are no deadly look a likes. Here are some photos to help you identify if what you have is a henbit.
Benefits of using Henbits:
1.) They’re a savory and delicious additive to soups, dips, salads, and dressings
2.) The oil from henbit seeds has shown antioxidant properties.
3.) Easily available & nutritious
How to use Henbits:
Henbit recipes might be hard to come by but here are a few of my FAVORITE ways to use them:
1.) Use to flavor soups and broths
2.) Add to any pasta dish for an earthy flavor (finely chopped)
3.) Chop and mix it in with any salad greens for an added herbaceous flavor.
4.) Make tea out of it (may make you sweat, has also been used to clean/discharge from the kidneys)
5.) Roasted or Fried potatoes
7.) Use in tuna, egg, or chicken salad for added depth.
Nutritional profile for Henbits:
It’s pretty hard to find reliable nutritional info for henbits or deadnettle, but it could be generally deduced they’re a good source of:
– vitamins (probably A, C, & E)
Other tips for harvesting Henbits
I have found that Henbits have the best flavor raw when they are still tender, so harvest them young. After washing them thoroughly, I like to chop a bunch all at once and store it in a ziplock for henbits all year round. You can also dry them to store for year round access easily:
– Wash thoroughly
– Pat dry with paper towels
– Cut off parts you don’t want
– Place on baking sheet (not overlapping) and bake at 125 until they are no longer green
– Chop, crumble, or pulverize and store in a ziplock
Other Interesting Henbit Facts:
– Name is derived from birds and or chickens eating the seeds
– They’re important nectar/pollen plants for bees since they are available early in the year
– They’ve been used as a potherb in some areas for ages
– Dried leaves have been used in a poultice to stop hemorrhaging
– Native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa, introduced to North America.