'Take a Bite of Henbit!'
Take a Bite of Henbit!
by Marilyn Odneal, Horticulture Adviser
MOUNTAIN GROVE, MO "I often think of henbit as the harbinger of spring and summer weeding chores. Its pretty pinkish purple blossoms dress up our lawns and gardens at this time whether we like it or not. But letÃ¢ÂÂs look on the bright side and take a bite of henbit.Henbit, as it grows in the spring alongside rocks, heaved up as a result of temperature extremes.
Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule, is a winter annual. The seeds of winter annuals germinate in fall, the plants grow through winter, and then blossom and go to seed in late winter and spring. HenbitÃ¢ÂÂs square stem lets you know that it is a member of the mint family. The roots are fibrous and the stems have many branches that are somewhat prostrate with ascending tips. The leaves are oppositely arranged on the stem and have rounded teeth. The lower leaves have petioles (leaf stems connecting the leaf to the main stem) but the upper leaves do not have petioles and clasp around the stem. The flowers occur in whorls or circles in the axils of the upper leaves and are two-lipped, pink to purple and tubular.
To harvest henbit for food, pick and wash the ascending tips. Jan Phillips, author of Ã¢ÂÂWild Edibles of Missouri,Ã¢ÂÂ recommends cooking the henbit tips Ã¢ÂÂslowly in no more water than is necessary, then add a dab of butter and season. Spring onions will give a neat touch.Ã¢ÂÂ Henbit harvested in early spring will also add a nice mint flavor and pretty color to jazz up your salads. Make sure that the henbit eat has not been treated with any lawn herbicides or other pesticides or contaminants.
Although the book is currently out of print, it is available online in its entirety through the Missouri Department of Conservation library.
If you are interested in learning more about wild edible plants, consider attending the Spring Horticulture Seminar on Wild Edibles, presented at the State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove and sponsored by the Tri-County Master Gardeners and the station.
Pat French, retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation, is an expert on native edibles who will talk them and how they are best stalked, harvested and prepared. The workshop is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. April 16 in Faurot Hall. The registration fee is $5, but early registration is encouraged since space is limited. A wild snack might even be served!
Make checks payable to the Tri-County Master Gardeners and drop payment off at the office in Shepard Hall to the attention of Pam Mayer or send payment to Pam Mayer at the address below.
And remember for any wild edible plant - proper plant identification is the key - if you donÃ¢ÂÂt know it, donÃ¢ÂÂt eat it.
Direct comments or questions concerning this column to Marilyn Odneal via email at MarilynOdneal@missouristate.edu; write to Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Mo. 65711; or call (417) 547-7500.