A Little Bit of Henbit
Most American homeowners don't want "weeds" in their lawn because they are going for the perfectly manicured, weed-free, golf course look, but the truth of the matter is that henbit is a plant that you want in your garden, especially if you are trying to support wildlife. (and if you don't want weeds in your lawn the best way to avoid them is to grow thick, healthy grass au naturel.)
Although henbit is native to Eurasia and North Africa it has naturalized in most of the United States. It is a member of the mint family and like many members it too likes to spread, especially in disturbed areas. I find it around our garden in sunny spots where there is lack of ground cover.
To homesteaders and wildcrafters henbit is a good weed. It gets its name from the fact that chickens like to eat the seeds. Beyond that, the stems, leaves and flowers are all edible. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Add it to salads, soups, wraps, spring rolls, green smoothies or make a tea. Have you ever eaten it? Be brave and try it. You might just like it. It doesn't have a minty flavor as one would assume being in the mint family. It actually tastes a bit like kale. Best of all it is extremely nutritious. It is high in iron, full of vitamins and lots of fiber. (But, be smart when foraging and only harvest henbit from locations you know are not sprayed with chemicals!)
Now if you are a wildlife gardener, like me, henbit is important because it is a winter bloomer and supports early pollinators that come out on our warm winter days. Bees are foraging for pollen and nectar to stay alive and henbit supplies them with much needed substance. It continues to bloom into spring and will support bumble bees, honey bees, long-tongued bees, butterflies as well as those early hummingbirds that show up in our garden mid-March. The foliage is also eaten by voles and box turtles. Now, that's quite a variety of wildlife supported by this purple "weed"!
So, next time you see this humble, little purple plant in your lawn and garden remember its benefits. The early pollinators will thank you!