Weeds of Wonder: Red Deadnettle, Henbit, and Dandelion

[Note from The ev0ke Folx: always consult a professional before taking any herbal remedies, and always make sure that a plant has been properly identified before eating it! It’s called common sense, people.]

Spring has sprung, my lovelies, and it is time to get down and dirty … in the garden! 

This is the time to grab a hoe and start getting back to nature. We have been cooped up for far too long with the pandemic and winter; many of us have lost ourselves to the cold loneliness of 2020. This is your moment to say hello to a new chapter in your life and find your green thumb. 

This is the first part in a series all about urban farming and homesteading. You don’t need three hundred acres of lush farmland to be a farmer. A few pots and a little know-how will take you a long way. 

How does this tie into Paganism? Well, what’s more Pagan than growing your own food, or herbs for teas and medicine, or having an agreement with nature that you will provide for it if it provides for you? 

Growing your own food or even raising animals for byproducts (i.e., milk, eggs, wool, et cetera) is one of the most spiritual activities one can do. And guess what … it’s easy! 

Today we are going to start off with the most important part of urban farming and homesteading: seeing possibilities in the ordinary. 

We must take a step outside of our own thinking and see nature and items beyond their perceived use. Today we will focus on common weeds found in almost every yard: Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), and Dandelions (Taraxacum). 

Consider the accompanying photos of my yard on April 3, 2021.

 As you can see, I need to mow … but first we harvest!! 

Red Deadnettle is one of the most powerful herbs for medicinal use, and it tastes great. 

Uses of Red Deadnettle: 1. Astringent; 2. Diuretic; 3. Diaphoretic; 4. Purgative; 5. Anti-inflammatory; 6. Anti-bacterial; 7. Anti-fungal.

Crush up the plant with a pestle and mortar until it is a poultice. Then place on wounds and bites to help quick healing and to keep all the nasties out! Clean and reapply daily. 

You can also put the flower bits in salads for a sweet addition, and with its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties it will aid in weight loss and overall bloating (just make sure you’re hydrated). 

A lot of times people see another plant that is almost identical to the Red/Purple Deadnettle and that is called Henbit. Henbit is in the same family as Deadnettle (in fact, it’s full name is Henbit Deadnettle). In terms of chemical make up they’re very similar and will offer the same properties as listed above, but for those trying to stick with only one plant type at a time here are a few ways to tell the difference. 

How to tell the difference:

  1. Henbit flowers are long and cylindrical. 
  2. The leaves of Henbit will be green with dark purple near the stem. 
  3. True Deadnettle will have leaves that have a majority purple hue. 

On to Dandelions!

Uses for Dandelions: 1. Powerful antioxidant; 2. Anti-inflammatory; 3. Helps regulate blood sugar; 4. Helps reduce cholesterol; 5. Promotes a healthy liver; 6. Helps aid weight loss.

Dandelions have been used for centuries in herbal remedies for the liver. Herbalists believe the roots of the dandelion can “clean” the liver and help it function more efficiently. 

Listen, dandelions are delish. Some people fry them up in butter, but I’m old school. I put them in fruit salads alongside blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and some honey drizzled on top. So yum! 

So, what have we learned today? That even the smallest thing that may annoy award winning landscapers and yard junkies can actually bring us amazing benefits. That’s the first step in changing your mindset and stepping into the urban farm and homestead life. 

Take a moment and look around your house/yard, what do you see that has untapped potential? Tell us in the comments below!

[Written by Sheldon Slinkard.]

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