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February 17, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Henbit and Purple Dead-nettle

Until last year, I never gave much thought to the “purple stuff” that claims the yard each spring. A few hours experimenting with my camera’s macro function converted indifference to fascination. I had never noticed the delicate, fringed mouths and tapering, graceful throats. I had never noticed the subtle differences that mean there are two distinct species of these purple beauties.

Once again, the urge to name what I photograph sent me into research mode. Aided by a 1968 edition of Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America and Virginia Tech’s online Weed Identification Guide, I discovered that the purple blooms are two related species of the mint family:  henbit and purple dead-nettle.

It still seems ironic that I found them listed as both wildflowers and weeds.

I believe the first two photos are henbit, and the last is purple dead-nettle. Please comment with correction and/or confirmation!

4 Comments

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  1. dianne - life as i see it / Feb 17 2012 4:36 PM

    beautiful, love that first one

  2. Sharon Poch / Feb 17 2012 7:16 PM

    I absolutely loved the second photo–the first flower with it’s eerily human face and, above, the perfectly shaped heart. Also the letter “m”–I think it’s trying to tell us something.
    Beautiful photography.
    Shar

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