Red dead-nettle Lamium purpureum

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November
Colour Purple
Habitat Arable, Farmland

To some it is 'sweet archangel' to others 'bad man's posies'.

But there's no mixed reputation among our bumblebees: they love it. In fact in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire it was traditionally known as 'bumblebee flower'. The 'dead' in 'dead-nettle' refers to its lack of a sting.

Identification

Whorls of pink-purple flowers clustered amongst leaves towards the top of the plant. The aromatic leaves are hairy, heart-shaped and have toothed edges. Some leaves near the top of the plant take on a purple tint. This plant can be mistaken for henbit dead-nettle which has similar flowers. They can be differentiated because red dead-nettle leaves have short petioles (leaf stalks).

Distribution

Found throughout the UK.

Habitat

This plant likes arable and waste land and can also be found in gardens, hedgerows and on roadsides.

Best time to see

Red dead-nettle has a long flowering season that can begin in February and last until November.

Did you know?

The generic name is from the Greek lamia meaning ‘devouring monster’. This refers to the helmet shape (galeate) of the flower which has the appearance of open jaws.

The vernacular name 'Archangel' may refer to their virtue of being non-stinging.

It is likely that this plant was introduced to Britain with early agriculture and evidence for it has been found in Bronze Age deposits.

The whole plant is astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, purgative and styptic. In terms of traditional medicinal uses, dried leaves have been used as a poultice to stem hemorrhaging whilst fresh bruised leaves have been applied to external wounds and cuts. The leaves are also made into a tea and drunk to promote perspiration and discharge from the kidneys in treating chills.