Winter blooms

10th January 2013

White Dead-nettle Lamium album


Spotted this White Dead-nettle Lamium album today in full flower. No real surpise as they can be found flowering pretty much at any time of year but generally its from March to November. This perennial plant takes its name from its similarity to the common Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica but it lacks the stinging hairs , hence the “dead” part of it’s name. It is unrelated to the Nettle although they will often grow side by side and when not flowering to the un-trained eye can be difficult to tell apart.

The leaves of White Dead-nettle can be eaten raw in salads or cooked as a green vegetable they can also be mixed and matched with nettles and other spring greens in soups and stews. The flowers contain nectar and provided you get them early in the morning before the bees (no so much of a problem at this time of year) they will be sweet and can be used as an interesting salad addition.

As well as edible uses the plant has lots of medicinal uses.  A tea made from the leaves taken when the plant is in full flower and used either fresh or dried can be used for treating cystitis, benign prostate hyperplasia, menstrual problems, constipation and bizarrely diarrhoea, and respiratory complaints. Externally, a poultice made from the leaves is effective for burns, cuts, bruises, insect bites and even arthritic pain…if you are out foraging and succumb to any of these, simply pick a few leaves, chew them and apply to the sore bit.

Kev Palmer

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