What is that pretty purple flower growing all over the OC?

It’s a weed! No, it’s a flower! No, wait! It is henbit. “Hen bit? Do chickens eat it?” is the most common response I get after telling folks what this green plant topped with purple flowers is. It is in the mint family, but doesn’t smell minty. Whether you claim it to be a weed or flower depends entirely on your point of view. Some folks also consider it edible and medicinal.

As a weed: “Hooray for henbit” is not your motto? Ok, there are a couple of things you can do. In the Fall, put down a pre-emergent weed killer such as corn gluten meal. If the weed is already on the lawn, cut it down as soon as the blooms appear, before it goes to seed. As a last resort, pull it out. Or you could wait until late spring, when it disappears.

As a flower: My daughter picks bouquets, daily, of this little purple flower. Some florists use it in arrangements as well. It has a lovely dark green square stem, surrounded with billowing foliage, and topped with pretty purple flowers. What’s not to like?

As an edible: Raw, cooked, or in a tea, henbit provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

As a medicine: Notice when henbit arrives, during our rough-and-tumble cold/flu season. Taken as a tea, henbit is said to relieve cold-and-flu symptoms. What a gift from Mother Nature!

Garden Lady’s Green Dates to Remember

  • Feb. 25 Volunteer Day at the We Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College
  • Feb. 26, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. AOP Garden Work Day
  • March 3 11 a.m. Garden Talk at Repotted — themed pot class, followed by a demonstration of revitalizing the garden and planning and planting for spring.
  • March 3 1 p.m.-3 p.m. AOP Health Awareness Day at Repotted
  • March 9 Garden Talk at Repotted