Purple dead-nettle - Lamium purpureum

Family: (Mint family) [E-flora]


"Lamium purpureum is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Mar to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"Purple deadnettle is an introduced invasive annual species that originates in Europe. It is now found in many US states (AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV) and in Canada is found in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia (USDA 2010). In British Columbia, it is reported from southwestern BC. and a few interior locations. Two varieties of this species are reported in BC: var. incisum(sharp-toothed) and var. purpureum (round-toothed). Large purple flowering patches of this species are prominent in the spring in the Fraser Delta, in agricultural fields and along disturbed roadsides edges (late March, early April)."[USDA-E-flora]


"General: Annual herb from a short taproot; stems branched from the base, reclining, inconspicuously hairy, 10-40 cm long, often somewhat purple tinted, 4-angled." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Opposite, egg-shaped to almost round, 1-5 cm long, obtuse at tip, heart-shaped at base, margins toothed with rounded to somewhat sharp teeth; leaves all stalked, the stalks 1-3 cm long." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: Inflorescence of several axillary flower clusters at ends of branches; bracts leaf-like, but smaller than leaves and uppermost unstalked; corollas tubular, pink-purple, 10-15 mm long, longer than calyces, hairy outside, with or without a ring of hairs inside near the base, the hood-like upper lip 2-4 mm long; calyces tubular bell-shaped, 5-6 mm long, the slender teeth firm, unequal, somewhat spreading, about as long as the tube, hairy." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Nutlets, 4 clustered together, three-angled, squared-off at tips." [IFBC-E-flora]
Two varieties occur in BC. The var. incisum is usually considered to be of hybrid origin between L. moschatum Mill. and L. purpureum.
1. Leaves deeply sharp-toothed ..... var. incisum (Willd.) Pers.
1. Leaves round-toothed ..... var. purpureum"[IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range: Mesic to dry waste places and roadsides in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in SW BC, infrequent E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic[E-flora]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses


"When children had measles, red deadnettle roots were boiled in milk for them to drink. This was reckoned to bring out the rash (Vickery. 1995). That was an Irish remedy, and there is one from East Anglia for piles, when the plant was infused in white wine for an hour. A wineglassful would be taken two or three times a day (V G Hatfield. 1994). The rest of the medicinal uses are taken from the earlier herbalists. For example, from the 15th century, “to heal wounds full of blood. Stamp red nettle in a mortar with red vinegar (?), and lay on the wound: and it shall do away the blood and cleanse the wound” (Dawson. 1934). This is in fact an old remedy for “stopping the effusion of blood” (Pratt), and Hill, in the 18th century, was recommending such a cure. There was a recipe for boils in Reliquae Antiquae (14th century), and Gerard recommended it for the King’s Evil, which is scrofula, and also as a poultice for wens and hard swellings. Another of Lupton’s suggestions was for constipation, using red deadnettles (and mallows). The plants had to be boiled in water, and then the party was advised to “…sit close over the same, and receive the fume thereof up his fundament, and it will help him certainly and speedily (God willing)”." [DPL Watts]

"An infusion of Lamium purpureum, in a quart of wine, has been drunk in Essex as a treatment for piles94 (and elsewhere in East Anglia it features as a cure for certain diseases of poultry95).
In Ireland, on the other hand, a decoction of the roots has been taken in Meath to bring out the rash in cases of measles,96 while in Kerry an infusion has been drunk for headaches.97 As similar uses are on record for betony (Stachys officinalis), perhaps Lamium purpureum has served there merely as a stand-in for that." [MPFT]

Cultivation & Propagation

"Seed - plants usually self sow freely and should not require human intervention. When required, the seed can be sown in situ as soon as it is ripe." [PFAF]

"An easily satisfied plant, it tolerates most soils and conditions. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes shade. A common garden weed, usually flowering at almost any time of the year and the seed is capable of germinating even in the winter if the weather is mild[17]. In rich soils the plant can grow quite lushly, in poor soils it will only grow a few centimetres tall before flowering and spreading its seed. The plant is easily controlled, however, and never really becomes a pest[K]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. A good bee plant[4, 24]. Grows well with potatoes[14]." [PFAF]


Page last modified on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 2:14 PM