Wild Edible Plants . . .

This site is a database for wild edible plants of North America. I encourage any users to leave comments reflecting their experiences with a certain plant. Much of our knowledge of edible plants is either lost, superstitious or incorrect. There's a lot of hype about how dangerous wild plants can be, when in reality most are not only safe they're critical for your health.

My perspective is somewhat unique in that my family and I have camped as a lifestyle for over a decade - essentially lived with edible plants and used them on a daily basis. We have also been raw fooders for a very long period. Becoming 100% raw vegan sparked my interest in edible plants like nothing else. Every day I was out hiking the trails barefoot, eating grass, eating flowers, trying parts of the many plants I came across with a clean palate . . .

Using wild edible plants is the best way we can defy the system, maintain our health, and get our independence back.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dead-Nettle (lamium purpureum)

. Purple dead-nettle (lamium purpureum) is an extremely common lawn and roadside weed. It will carpet huge areas, and grow to be quite lush in fertile soil. It's a short-lived annual that will grow and flower even in the winter with mild temperatures. It's in the mint family, so it's a very mild mint - look closely at the stem and you can see it's square, or 4-sided, instead of round or cylindrical:

Sometimes mint stems can be so hairy the best way to tell the stem is square is to feel it with your fingers. You'll feel the edges.

The entire plant is edible. The flavor is very mild, grassy - you can eat it stem and all, or pluck off the leafy tops. The leaves are covered in a dense hairy down - and this can take away some from the mild flavor. However you get used to it quickly.

Dead-nettle's reported to be highly nutritious, abundant in iron, vitamins, and fiber. The oil in the seeds is high in antioxidants. And the bruised leaves can be applied to external cuts and wounds to stop bleeding and aid in healing.

One great way to eat large quantities of this plant is to blend it into a smoothie. I'm a firm believer after many years of foraging that greens are the most important part of our diet. But instead of grazing and chewing all day (though chewing is important!), we can mimic an indigenous diet by blending up large amounts of greens and edible weeds into smoothies - the miracle tonic called the 'green smoothie'.

The dead-nettle is now in flower and my daughters and I go to gather a few cups of it for our smoothie:

I use the entire above-ground portion of the plant, and collect it in one of our small muscadine baskets:

When we were raw fooders camped in a small pine needle clearing in Apalachicola NF (northern Florida) - we spent a month working on crafts and primitive skills. Muscadine vines were everywhere (it's a tough southern grape). We made several baskets - they're incredibly durable:
It's tough to gather a lot of the dead-nettle because of a very cold wind ripping by. Though it's almost March, it still feels like winter. On the walk back home, once I've gathered enough, we all chew and eat some of the dead-nettle. For me this is the best way to fully appreciate how nourishing this plant is - and it's a great exercise for your teeth and jaws.

I lay out my ingredients for the smoothie at home; the dead-nettle, a banana, a mango, and 2 cups of water:

I put everything into a new Cuisinart blender I just picked up ($99 - but it puts out 600 watts, over 3/4 horsepower). Water first, then fruit, then greens:

The finished product was rather watery and not too sweet and slightly gritty from imperfectly blended dead-nettle. So I peeled 6 baby bananas and threw them in. This did the trick. Sweet, rich, a smoothie-like consistency, and with all those weeds, unbelievably mineral-dense and nutritious.

Today is my first day of going back onto raw foods and being a 100% raw vegan again. I'm going to use an abundance of wild edible plants and green smoothies in my diet, and document the process here.

I want to feel again like I did several years ago - when the whole family was 100% raw, camping up on Black Balsam in western North Carolina, gathering huge amounts of wild blueberries, and blackberries, and cherries, and juneberries, and foraging on our hands and knees to collect trailside plantain for our salads. It's only a matter of discipline.


  1. do some more posts, we are hanging on every word and can't wait to learn more from you. We live on a big farm in Illinois and learn and collect every wild edible we can. your blog inspired us to go pick a huge amount of deadnettle today. Friday we had redbud blossom pancakes and collected plantain, dock and nettles.

    alison and pat

  2. Thanks for the blog site! This is great...I wanted to know what that plant is...since I have fields of it!

  3. Alison and Pat,

    I will keep posting, though not as often. We're moving back up to the property in Sunbright to continue homesteading in 2 days, and I have a cabin to build, and there is no internet. Hopefully when I come into town on rainy days and visit the library I can upload photos on the computers there.

    5 acres of our land is cleared and covered in edible weeds, and we plan on using them on a daily basis - smoothies, salads, steamed greens, etc. I should have a lot of info and experience to post.

    Connie in TN,

    Thanks, Connie.

  4. Thank for the info! I took a Spring Flora class at the local college, and my instructor informed us Lamium purpureum was edible. Since, I have wanted to back up his claim with a little research. Thanks in part to you, I shall work on adding this wild herb to my diet!

  5. I was looking to identify the henbit type plant in our yard and found your site! And now I know the plant is deadnettle. Thanks so much and I'm looking forward to reading further blogposts.
    I subscribed to both this blog and your homesteading one for my yahoo page.
    Oh! I do you know the nutritional value of deadnettle?

  6. I came across your blog too late. My husband just spread weed and feed all over our backyard. It was basically completely overtaken with Lamium Pupureum.
    I am disappointed! Would it have been okay to add to our compost I wonder or would it have sprouted more weeds...
    Oh, well too late now. I'm upset because now I can't add any of our lawn clippings to our compost anymore.

  7. this weed is all over my backyard in charlotte nc. It has taken over an organic garden box about 4'x 8'. I was wondering how I could kill it without destroying the dirt with weed killer. Now i won't destroy it, we'll just eat it. And when my neighbors ask what we are growing, I will say "it is deadnettle, I quit growing tomatoes an peppers this year:), they just aren't as hardy!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Thank you for the information! I grow a lot of spotted dead nettle in my garden and never knew it was edible! I will be adding it to my salads now with other wild edible greens. We have an abundance of them here! Perslane grows wild in the flowerbeds, mallow and violets are everywhere!

  9. Cool website. I don't see how you can promote trespassing though. If I catch someone on my property they're being charged regardless of what they were doing.

  10. Awesome bit of info here...I just found some Dead-Nettle in my yard and tried it. It kinda grabs your throat on the way down, but very enjoyable. Aromatic and tasty...Thanks

  11. Blessed with dead-nettles in west ireland. We make pesto from it. You would swear it was Basil.

  12. i love this info thanks my back yard is full of henbit i will have an easter salad!!!!

  13. COOL!!! I have a whole yard full of food!!! Thank you so very much. GOD bless you and yours.

  14. Thank you!! We have been wondering what this plant was that is always in full bloom this time of year. Should have known it was in the mint family.

  15. Thanks for the info and for the step by step on the smoothie. Now I know how to use this plant!!!

  16. I hadn't thought of using it in a smoothie...thanks!

  17. So glad to know what this plant is now! I've wondered if it was edible and now I know. I make vegetable smoothies and have one everyday. These will make great additions to my next batch. I wonder if this plant is good when dried and used for tea? Thanks very much for this post. :)

  18. You are an inspiration. I love to see this, are you still doing this? Are you still living the truly free life as we are at the Shikata homestewad? Come connect with us!

  19. Does lamium purpureum have a mild minty scent/taste?

  20. We would like to subscribe to your email newsletters, please.
    laurie_wallick@yahoo.com. Also, do you have a Facebook page?


    Lorili Design, Inc.

    We found your site mentioned in a plant id and discussion group on FB, tracing dead nettle!

  21. Well, I'm anemic and have this stuff all over my yard. Hey why not try?

  22. Well, I'm anemic and have this stuff all over my yard. Hey why not try?

  23. Your first photo is actually gill over the ground, also known as ground ivy. It is also edible, but it is important to accurately label your plant information if people are using your blog as a reference.

  24. I see these around my apartment complex. I would love to try them but not sure if the lawn care sprays it. Any suggestions?

  25. This is so cool, I never knew this was even edible. Now I'm going to have to do more research :)

  26. I've gotten lost in the woods once, this helped me stay fed for as long as possible.