I’ve been seeing this stuff since I was a kid mowing the lawn but I never knew what it was other than the weed that my Mother declared war on every spring. People don’t appear to dignify weeds by calling them by their proper name. A Weed is just…..a weed. Anyway, I had not seen it here on the farm until this year. Suddenly, entire fields are covered with it.
The mystery was solved thanks to the 50 cent book I picked up at the local library sale. “Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States.” Perhaps new weeds have been identified that dated this 1975 version so the Library Honchos decided to ditch it. It seems that if it has a bloom of any sort, this book classifies it a Wildflower. My Mother would write the Publisher in protest! Anyway, there in the color plates of each wildflower/weed cataloged, lurked the ubiquitous pinkish/ purple weed that covers our fields. Meet “Henbit”!
My 50 cent reference book calls it “a troublesome weed, especially in yards and gardens.” No kidding. An annual or a winter annual, it blooms from February into May of each year. I walk the fields a lot but I had never noticed it before. My wife tells me it seems to follow cotton crops. Makes sense since everybody in Eastern North Carolina including us, is on the cotton bandwagon. (Check out the prices of raw cotton and you’ll see why).
Hard to see in full sun, Henbit declares itself to the eye in late afternoon or early morning light. It gave a pretty hue to a recent sunrise out in our High Field.
One additional tidbit about Henbit. My discarded reference book says it has been used as a cooked green when young but is possibly poisonous if used in large quantities. Moral of the story. If you can’t beat it, eat it but not too much of it. See you soon on most of this same blog.