Lamium album (white dead-nettle)
Leaves and flowers of Lamium album (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)
Woodland, wildflower grassland, waysides, rough ground and on various soils.
Food, herbal remedies.
About this species
The nectar at the base of the tube-like flowers of Lamium album is only accessible to long-tongued insects such as bumble bees and mason bees. Smaller insects are often not heavy enough to open the flowers. The nettle-shaped leaves of Lamium album do not sting and are eaten by slugs and snails.
Lamium album got its common name ‘deadnettle’ because its leaves resemble those of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Unlike the nettle, Lamium album does not have stinging hairs, and can be easily distinguished by its large white (or pink) flower (the flowers of Urtica dioica are tiny and greenish).
Flowers boiled in water can be used as a traditional herbal remedy for catarrh and dropsy, and the roots boiled in wine as a remedy for kidney stones. The plant is also used as a herbal treatment for leucorrhoea, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and for gastrointestinal problems.
Geography and distribution
Lamium album is common in most of lowland Britain, except for the north and west of Scotland. It is also found in most of Europe, east Turkey, Iran and Iraq, east Russia and from China to Mongolia. It has been introduced into Iceland, North America and New Zealand.
The white dead-nettle is a perennial and rhizomatous. The stems are square and often hairy. Leaves are petiolate, with ovate blades and the upper and lower surfaces are hairy. Nutlets are dull brown. Flowers are white or pink, flowering from March to December in Britain.
Threats and conservation
In the UK, Lamium album is widespread in a number of different habitats, including disturbed ground. There are currently no obvious threats to it.
Young leaves and flowers from Lamium album can be eaten raw. Young leaves can also be boiled and eaten as a vegetable.
There are several variegated forms which are grown as ornamental herbaceous perennials.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Four
Seed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant survive being dried without significantly reducing their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)
Germination testing: Successful
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Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1992). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening, 4 vols. Macmillan, London.
Mennema, J. (1989) A Taxonomic Revision of Lamium (Lamiaceae). Leiden Botanical Series, Volume 11.
Usher, G. (1974). A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable, London.
Uphof, J.C. Th. (1959). Dictionary of Economic Plants. Engelmann, New York.
Williamson, E.M. (2003). Potter’s Herbal Cyclopedia. C.W. Daniel, Saffron Walden.
Kew Science Editor: Gemma Bramley
Kew contributors: Sustainable Uses Group
Copy editing: Kew Publishing
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