Dead Nettle (Lamium Purpureum)
If you've tasted Purple Dead Nettle before, you'll know about the dirt like taste. That earthy, moist, almost dirt like taste.
I love asking participants on my foraging workshops to describe the taste of each weed (as we nibble on everything), and 'dirt' is the most common answer for Purple Dead Nettle.
But don't let that put you off! This little beauty has such a wide array of flavor, it's quite incredible. Sometimes described as mouth puckeringly astringent, floral and sweet, mushroomy, earthy, grassy, even minty (it is part of the mint family) or spicy. In my opinion it all depends on the season and growing location.
Right now the Dead Nettles are pumping like there's no tomorrow, and tasting luscious - so I'd say now is the best time to gather.
I enjoy the leaves & pretty flowers tossed into salads or infused into butter (there's a recipe on my website). or cooked and added to soups, stews, fritatta etc.
Lamium Purpureum is the latin name for Purple or Red Dead Nettle. 'Purpureum' meaning purple refers to the gorgeous little purple/pink colored flowers, which have a tiny little 'hood' and lower 'lip'. Look closely, these are gorgeous, iris like little flowers.
Dead Nettle is very nutritious, abundant with vitamins, especially high in Vitamin C, iron & fibre.
Medicinally it's used to boost the immune system and is said to have anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, antifungal, diuretic & astringent properties. Given it's powerfully astringent properties, the leaves can be used in first aid, applied to open wounds to stop bleeding.
Purple Dead Nettle is closley related to Hentbit (Lamium Amplexicaule) and initially it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Luckily, they are both edible and share many nutritional & medicinal properties.
I'm presuming that the common name 'dead nettle' refers to the plants similarities in appearance with stinging nettle, yet without any stinging.
Dead Nettle features in my Winter Foraging Guide, which can be downloaded under 'Foraging Guides'. Lots more detailed information, photos, comprehensive ID, nutritional + medicinal properties, how to prepare, recipes, folklore & history.