Part 1: Early Spring Plants in Backyard Habitats

Lamium purpureum, common name purple dead nettle, is a member of the Mint family with a prolific growth habit that is a favorite of pollinators. It grows alongside henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and in my yard it holds its own against creeping charlie.

I’ve observed it to be more of a favorite of bees and bee mimics than Lepidoptera, so it was much to my surprise that I captured a Juvenal’s Duskywing feeding on a cluster of flowers last March. Like creeping charlie, the flowers thrive in the spring warmth and sun until late spring when they die back upon the arrival of summer heat.

If necessary, they can be periodically mowed and will reflower after a period of recovery. Though purple dead nettle isn’t as invasive as creeping charlie, it generously spreads. If it has already naturalized in your yard, it does serve as a very early nectar source for bees and some butterflies. It is not a plant I would add to my backyard unless I had a way to keep it well contained.

The leaves of purple dead nettle are edible and can serve as a food source during the zombie apocalypse. The leaves can be made into tea or used in salads.

Juvenal’s Duskywing feeding on purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)

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