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Arts and Culture

Discover Nature: Dead Nettle

A cluster of tiny pink-purple flowers adorns a stalk of green-purple pyramidal leaves in a patch of sunlit dead nettle.
Dead nettle is an edible weed in the mint family. Though non-native to Missouri, its shallow, abundant roots provide benefits to soil health and rarely present a problem. Its flowers feed pollinators and offer a colorful sign of the spring season.

This week on Discover Nature, step outside and find small, blooming signs of spring in yards, gardens, and fallow fields.

   

 

Dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) grows in broad, carpeted colonies of clustered-purple flowers atop square, branched stems, and a massed canopy of green- to rose-purple leaves. 

 

Though non-native to Missouri and often regarded as a weed, dead nettle’s abundant roots help bind soil in early spring, and since the roots remain shallow, they rarely present a problem. 

 

Members of the mint family, and closely related to henbit, the purple blossoms of dead nettle can lift winter-weary spirits in humans and animals alike. Bees and other pollinators hurry to these mints in early spring, when they, too, are emerging from winter dormancy, in need of nectar.  

 

Signs of spring, fresh air, and time in nature can help us all through times of isolation, doubt, and worry. Take time this week to observe and appreciate beauty in nature near you. 

 

Learn more about dead nettle and other spring flowers with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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