Inside: Bees flock to red deadnettle for super-early spring loads of pollen and nectar.
Another mint family plant for pollinators
After yesterday’s post about mint varieties that are bee favorites, two beekeepers recommended I include red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). I agree that it is an excellent early forage plant for bees, but I did not include it because it is considered invasive in North America and is a problem plant in some areas.
Red deadnettle is often referred to as purple deadnettle or purple archangel. The “purple” comes from the flower color, whereas the “red” comes from the color of the upper leaves. “Deadnettle” refers to the fact that, unlike a true nettle, it does not sting. In other words, it is “dead.”
The plant is originally from Europe and Asia. It has naturalized across North America, where it enjoys roadsides, gardens, fence lines, and fields. However, it has found favor with many gardeners because it will thrive in disturbed areas that support little greenery. Not only is it easy to grow, but it sports attractive flowers that lure pollinators.
Red deadnettle flowers throughout the year
The plant can produce flowers almost any time of year, including the winter in mild years. Because it is one of the first plants to bloom, it can be an important food source for bees, producing both nectar and pollen. The pollen is an unmistakable bright red color.
This annual plant can reach 18 inches high, although it usually peaks at about 12 inches. It is found along roadsides, in cultivated fields, in lawns, and in other disturbed areas. The plant is edible and known to be high in antioxidants, although I’ve heard the taste is only so-so.
Honey Bee Suite