Henbit is a common winter annual or biennial weed found in North Carolina waste areas. Stems grow primarily upright but can root at the lower nodes. It branches freely from the base stems which are green or purple in color. Leaves are rounded, coarsely toothed, hairy, and deeply veined. Flowers are in whorls in the axils of the upper leaves. Petals are purple and fused into a two-lipped tube. It is similar to purple deadnettle in appearance but its upper leaves do not have petioles, whereas purple deadnettle's do. Purple deadnettle also has upper leaves that are distinctly red- or purple-tinged. Purple deadnettle and henbit both have distinctive four-sided (square) stems, and flower in early spring.
Winter annual broadleaf weeds germinate in the fall or winter and grow during any warm weather, which may occur in the winter, but otherwise remain somewhat dormant during the winter. They resume growth and produce seed in the spring and die as temperatures increase in late spring and early summer. They quickly invade thin turf areas especially where there is good soil moisture. Shade may also encourage growth. Many have a prostrate growth habit and are not affected by mowing. A dense, vigorous turf is the best way to reduce the encroachment of winter annual weeds. First, select adapted turfgrass cultivars for your area and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth.
Growth Season/Life Cycle
winter annual or biennial weed
stems are prostrate, but erect at the tip, square (four-sided), and often purple-tinged
dense on upper surface, along the veins on lower surface
1/2 - 2 inches