Henbit: One Person's Weed is Another Person's Wildflower...or Salad

April 8, 2017 - Scott's Exterior Maintenance

With the jump start to spring comes the jump start to weed season. One of the earliest weeds to show up is Henbit. Henbit is in the mint family and shares the mints propensity to spread itself around where we don't want it.

 

One reason Henbit shows up so early is because of it's life cycle, which is a bit unusual. It's considered a winter annual. That means the seeds germinate in the fall, it establishes itself in the fall into winter, overwinters as a green plant, and then as soon as it warms up in the spring, grows like crazy, flowers, and goes to seed. The seeds stay in the soil during the summer and then germinate in the fall, repeating the cycle.

 

We have seen an explosion of Henbit in the past several years. It has taken over farm fields and nearly covered them in a solid blanket of purple flowers in the spring. It's a creeping lawn weed and easily grows in difficult conditions and within the grass. It takes over landscape beds and grows in wood mulch and rock mulch.

Given the life cycle of Henbit, having mild temperatures in the fall and winter only helps it gain strength and spread. This could explain why we are seeing such an explosion in the past several years.

 

Now, to the flip side. Henbit is actually regarded as an edible wild plant. Who knew? While doing some research on the plant, I found people online wanting seeds so they could plant some!!? People like the purple flowers and it could be considered a ground cover on difficult soils. The early spring flowers serve as a early nectar source for bees when not much else is flowering.

 

My neighbor told me she loves her dandelion "wildflowers" in her yard. I'll put Henbit in the same category and leave it up to you whether it's a terrible weed or a welcome wildflower!

So if you see these purple flowers now, chance are good it's Henbit!