January 24th, 2006

photo: henbit
2006-01-24. Henbit. Austin, TX

Those opportunistic plants, the weeds, have responded quickly to Sunday’s rain. The henbit was the first to flower. A winter annual considered by many to be a weed of turfgrass, henbit thrives in the damp and so is at home in our clay soil during the winter. AJM likes the little pink flowers, and so do the butterflies. So I always leave them a little bit of it in the meadow–until some other flowers are blooming.

photo: henbit
2006-01-24. Henbit. Austin, TX

Henbit does get straggly fast as it sprawls over the bluebonnets. Then it’s definitely weedy and I swear that next year I’ll nip it in the bud. As soon as it gets hot, though, it disappears on its own, so it’s never any real problem in our central Texas climate.

In Japan, henbit is one of the seven herbs of spring and is eaten as a tonic on January the 7th. This tradition goes back to those days before frozen foods and refrigerated trucks, when people suffered vitamin and mineral deficiencies without fresh greens in the winter.

Perhaps like other oft-maligned plants (I’m thinking of dandelion and nettles, Margaret), we will soon be paying top dollar for henbit in Central Market’s “spring mix” salads.

by M Sinclair Stevens

2 Responses to post “Henbit”

  1. From bill:

    If it does maybe I can finally get rich off gardening, because I do have a ton of the stuff.

  2. From mstevens:

    For some reason my husband will eat the dandelion greens we buy at the store but balks at the ones I can pick from the yard. I think he’d eat them if I grew them in the vegetable garden, though. I don’t really understand his reasoning on this point. Actually, I think it’s more visceral.