Deadnettles – Lamier
The name, Nettles, makes you think that the Stinging Nettle and the Deadnettle are closely related. This is not the case. They belong to different families, the Stinging Nettle belongs to the Nettle Family (Urticaceae) and the Deadnettle to the Mint Family (Labiatae). They grow throughout Europe and in temperate areas of Asia (Lebanon, Turkey and Syria). Deadnettles are so named because they do not sting. There are over 40 species of both annuals and perennials.
Deadnettles have, like their cousins in the Mint Family, square stems. They spread both by seeds and rooting stems that creep along the ground. The whole plant is hairy, the leaves are in pairs and coarse in texture. The flowers are double-lipped in various colours.
The most common species we encounter in our area are: Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), White Deadnettle (Lamium album), Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) and Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon).
The Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and the Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), (‘amplexicaule’ means ‘clasping’, how the leaves clasp the stem) are very often confused with each other. There are differences: the Red Deadnettle has triangular shaped leaves, and the bottom leaves are ‘stalked’; the Henbit Deadnettle has heart-shaped leaves with big scalloped edges. The bottom leaves are unstalked. The Red Deadnettle grows in large clumps.
The White Deadnettle has a long medical history. It has been used since the Middle Ages as a plant for gynaecological and obstetric problems: internally for menstrual problems, bleeding after childbirth, vaginal discharge and prostatitis; externally as a douche for vaginal discharge. Young shoots from all the different Lamiums contain iron, Vitamin C and fibre. The seed-oil of the Henbit Deadnettle contains flavonoids (anti-oxidant). Deadnettles make a good tasting tea.
Deadnettle stir fry
There are many ways of stir-frying vegetables. Below I’ve mentioned the standard way of stir-frying in Malaysia. An alternative is the southern European way: using olive oil and lemon juice instead of ginger, chillies and sunflower oil.
Ingredients: young deadnettle leaves, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 inch piece of ginger, chillies to taste, sunflower oil, salt, pepper.
Fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies till onions are translucent, add the young washed deadnettles, without adding any water, cook for 10 minutes, add salt, pepper and a dash of lemon.
Bibliography: RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs – Deni Bown, Mediterranean Wild Flowers – Collins, Food for Free – Richard Mabey, Web – Wikipedia – Lamium