As winter enters full swing, a lot of our plants, even the weeds, have called it quits for the season, but not henbit!
Henbit, or ‘Lamium amplexicaule’, is a nutritious wild edible that thrives in the cooler temps. A member of the lamiaceae family, henbit shows up in the fall and sticks around through the spring until summer's hotter temperatures kill it off. Because it is in the mint family it can be a hardy spreader.
As weeds go, this one is easy to pull, but stop before tossing it into the compost! Native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, henbit was brought to the colonies as a popular fodder for, you guessed it, chickens, and despite its popularity with hens, it is actually a tasty and very nutritional addition to the human diet as well!
Henbit is chock full of iron, minerals, and antioxidants. The leaves, stems, and flowers can be enjoyed raw or added to soups and stir frys. Despite being in the mint family, henbit does not taste minty but instead has a mild herbaceous flavor that pairs well with chickweed, wintercress, and wild garlic (which conveniently grows the same time of year).
With weeds like henbit, we (and the chickens) will be able to enjoy fresh greenery from our yards all winter long!
Janet Douberly is Program Coordinator at Downtown Greens. She writes a monthly feature called "Growing and Crawling Downtown" in Front Porch Fredericksburg. If you’d like to learn more about things growing and crawling in Fredericksburg, check out Downtown Greens on Facebook and Instagram.