Red Deadnettle, Purple Archangel, Dead Nettle
Flowers: The small red-purple or pink flowers are tubular, and the upper lobe is usually darker than the lower one. The upper and lower petals incline toward each other. The flowers form axillary clusters (attached at the juncture of stems and leaf stalks). They are arranged in false whorls of 3-6 flowers.
Stem: Stems are square, about 30 cm tall and bear pairs of leaves that grow opposite one another.
Leaves: The leaves don’t have stinging hairs like other nettles. They densely crowd the stem and each pair rotates 90 degrees from the pair of leaves immediately below or above. The young leaves at the apex of the stem are tinted purple and become dull green when mature.
Fruit: Purple Dead-Nettle flowers produce four reddish-brown nutlet seeds. Distinctive dark lines run down the centre of each nutlet face and around the outside.
Roots: The roots are shallow and fibrous.
Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolate): The leaves of Self-Heal may be obscurely toothed or entirely round, but are not crenate and the leaves are not purple. The many flowers of Self-Heal occur in a single inflorescence above the upper leaves
- Common Dead-Nettle (Lamium amplexicaule) has stemless leaves.
Habitat and Origin
Purple Dead-Nettle is native to Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America through the horticultural trade. It now grows in southern British Columbia and eastern Canada.
Purple Dead-Nettle grows well in disturbed areas. It grows in areas with full sunlight or light shade and moist, fertile soil. It can be found in gardens, orchards, fields, ditches, and weedy edges of woodlands.
Propagation & Vectors of Spread
Spreads through both seeds and vegetative methods. Flowers can self-pollinate before opening but can also be cross-pollinated by bees and wasps. Roots can form new genetically-identical plants by creeping (via horizontal roots growing outwards from the main plant and sending up clones) or by forming new plants from root fragments. Purple Dead-Nettle can germinate year-round when buried at depths of 0.5 – 2 cm. One plant can produce 300 seeds and can be viable for up to 9 years.
Purple Dead-Nettle is sometimes sold for ornamental purposes, so the nursery trade and gardeners are considered the plant’s main vector of spread. Purple Dead-Nettle is also spread in contaminated soil and by dumping garden waste.
Ecological, Economic, & Health Impacts
- Outcompetes native plants by forming dense ground cover shading out native species.
- Reduces crop yields.
What Can I Do?
Purple Dead-Nettle is found in the Lower Mainland (BC) and at a small number of locations in the Sea to Sky Region, so PREVENTION of further spread is key.
Learn to identify Purple Dead-Nettle: use the images presented in this profile page to learn how to identify Purple Dead-Nettle.
What to do if you spot it: You can report any Purple Dead-Nettle sighting by clicking here.
- Regularly monitor properties for weed infestations.
- Ensure soil and gravel are uncontaminated before transport.
- Check wildflower mixes to ensure that they do not contain Purple Dead-Nettle.
- Ensure that plants are disposed of in a garbage bag if found in floral arrangements to prevent seeds from spreading.
- Do not unload, park or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas; remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
- Do not plant Purple Dead-Nettle in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
- Do not move soil that has been contaminated with Purple Dead-Nettle.
- Do not compost!
- Hand-pull before it goes to seed.
- Regular mowing/tilling will reduce weed progression; plant material can be left on site to decompose if the plant hasn’t gone to seed.
- In the post-flowering stage, all plant parts must be bagged and deeply buried in landfills.
- When tilling, be sure to prevent machinery from spreading root fragments to new sites.
- Purple Dead-Nettle can be controlled with metsulfuron.
- Fall and early spring applications are generally the most effective and may also suppress seed production.
- We recommend that any herbicide application is carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.
No known biological control agents are available for this plant.
Edible Wild Food, Purple Deadnettle, https://www.ediblewildfood.com/purple-deadnettle.aspx
Gardening Know-How, Purple Deadnettle Control: Getting Rid of Purple Deadnettle Weeds, https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/weeds/purple-deadnettle-control.htm
Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, Lamium purpureum, https://www.goert.ca/documents/Lamium-purpureum.pdf
Illinois Wildflowers, Purple Dead Nettle, https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/pp_deadnettle.htm
Michigan State University, Purple Deadnettle, https://www.canr.msu.edu/weeds/extension/purple-deadnettle
Native Plant Trust, Lamium purpureum, https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/lamium/purpureum/
Nature Gate, Red Dead-nettle, http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/red-dead-nettle
North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, Lamium purpureum, https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/lamium-purpureum/
Plants For a Future, Lamium purpureum – L., https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lamium+purpureum
United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Purple Deadnettle, https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=LAPU2