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Extension > Garden > Master Gardener > Over the Backyard Fence | News from the Master Gardener director > A common but not so well-known landscape weed: Lamium amplexicaule L.

A common but not so well-known landscape weed: Lamium amplexicaule L.

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Some gardeners may have set eyes on a rather 'pretty' pink flowered spreading plant with Henbit.jpgfoliage very similar to creeping Charlie. However, it is not - repeat not - creeping Charlie.  It is another of our winter annuals belonging to the mint family (Labiatae or Lamiaceae) and known as henbit, Lamium amplexicaule L. (see right; photo by Bob Mugaas).

Henbit typically branches out from the base with several stems, but, unlike creeping Charlie, there is no rooting along the stems except for very near the base.  Also, henbit has it flowers positioned at the top of their stems as opposed to creeping Charlie where the flowers tend to be located all along the upright flowering stems in the area of the leaf axils.  Like other members of the mint family it typically has the square stems and minty fragrance when plant tissue is broken apart.

Because of its winter annual growth cycle, it is often easier to physically pull out once flowering begins.  It does self-seed which of course is how it survives year-to-year and increases in population size.   If it were in a situation where herbicides could be used, such as in grassy areas, conventional post-emergence broadleaf weed killers will provide control or, simply keep it mowed and prevent the formation of seed - the parent plant will eventually die off on its own due to its being a winter annual.   

Treating the newly formed rosettes in the fall (which by the way may occasionally flower too) is also a good way to achieve control.  When henbit is located in landscape beds, other desirable broadleaf plants in those same beds may be at risk for injury by post-emergence broadleaf herbicides used to control henbit.  Therefore, a combination of hand removal plus careful spot treatment of individual henbit plants will help minimize herbicide injury risk to those desirable plants.  Also, be sure to use herbicides formulated for low volatility, such as the amine forms, so that volatilization on a warm day following application won't result in off-target volatilization injury to desirable plants.

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