Ozark Outdoors

Henbit by any name is not just another weed

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Henbit is a member of the mint family. Use it to add color to a salad, but it’s also high in iron and fiber.

Almost everyone recognizes henbit, though not always by name. Henbit has distinctive whorls of tiny, spotted, tubular pinkish flowers, which this year has created seas of beautiful pink ground cover.

Henbit is high in iron, fiber, and antioxidants. Even the stems are edible along with the leaves and flowers. Add it to you salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Fresh leaves can also be used to make a tea. In an emergency, a poultice of henbit can treat burns, bruises, stings, and even wounds. Good to know if you knocked about on the field of play or off the beaten path.

As you might expect, chickens love it.So do bees; it’s a great source of nectar for bees making honey, so keep it around to support bee populations. Trouble is that the hen bit is blooming well ahead of the bee population.

If you knew it by its scientific name (Lamium amplexicaule L.), it is a relative of mint but far more prolific. It’s good to be in the mint family.

Henbit has square, hollow stems that can be green to purplish. The plant is sparsely covered with fine hairs. It has distinctive “collars” of oppositely-placed petals up the stem.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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