Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule L.) and purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum L.) are winter annual species of the same genus and are frequently confused with each other. Both species are often called henbit. These weeds germinate in the fall and sometimes in the spring. They are found throughout the eastern United States and thrive in both cool-season and warm-season forage grasses. Both species also grow in fine turf, orchards, gardens, landscapes, and cultivated crops.
Henbit flowers are pink to red and occur in clusters, 6 to 10 inches tall in the upper leaf stalks. Purple deadnettle flowers occur near the tops of the plant and are less purple than henbit flowers. The most striking difference is that the purple deadnettle’s upper leaves and stems are very red in appearance compared to henbit.
These weeds are relatively easy to control with several herbicides; however, mowing is ineffective. Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for herbicidal control in your area.
William W. Witt, PhD, a researcher in the department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.