Red dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

GenusLamium (1)
SizeHeight: 10 - 45 cm (2)
Leaf length: 1 - 5 cm (2)

Common and widespread. Not threatened (3).

Evidence of red dead-nettle has been found in Bronze Age deposits, and it seems likely that this plant was introduced to Britain with early agriculture (1). It is a hairy plant that branches from the base. The leaves have wavy to serrated edges and are attached to the stem with a stalk. The flowers are arranged in an inflorescence and are pinkish-purple in colour (2) with a hooded upper lip (4). Red dead-nettles are so-called as they do not sting (5).

This dead-nettle is common throughout much of the British Isles, to altitudes of 610 meters (2). It appears to have declined in Scotland, possibly as a result of a reduction in marginal arable land (3). Elsewhere, red dead-nettle is found in most of Europe, but is absent from many of the Mediterranean islands and is restricted to mountains in the more southerly areas (2).

Found in waste ground, cultivated land, hedgerows, gardens, rough grassland and on railway and road verges (3).

Red dead-nettle is an annual plant (3) that flowers from April to November (1). The flowers are pollinated by bees (2). As with white dead-nettle, most country children know that it is possible to suck drops of nectar from the bases of the flowers of red dead-nettle (5).

This species is not threatened.

Conservation action is not required for this common species.

For more on British native plants and for details of how to get involved in plant conservation visit the website of Plantlife, the wild plant charity:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003):
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G., and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Stace, C. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  5. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.