En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 16, 2012

From: Brownstown, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Edible Plants, Groundcovers
Title: Help with control of small, invasive groundcover
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a very invasive ground cover creeping into my yard. I've tried to identify it and it's similar to creeping charlie or garlic mustard. Leaves are triangular with jagged edges, small purple flowers. It grows in clumps in the lawn and in the soil. Doesn't seem to have much of a smell, not minty or garlicky, just smells like dirt! I think I may have figured it out. Possibly purple dead nettle. I also see that it is edible?? Well, I'm not sure I'm going to be putting it in my smoothies, but I'd still like to know how to control it. Neighbors yard is full of it! Thanks again for you time! Can you help me with control. It wants to invade my vegetable garden! Thanks so much!


Your description does sound like Lamium purpureum (Purple dead-nettle), a Eurasian native that is listed as an invasive weed.   Here are more photos and information from the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide.

Suggestions for its control from Michigan State University, Clemson University, Turf Grass Science from the University of Tennessee and GardenGuides.com include application of herbicides, hand pulling, tilling and preventing it from setting seed by keeping it mown to a level that removes the flowers and developing seeds.  Michigan State University Weed Science article suggest that tilling it under will control it.  All of the articles suggest herbicides and there is an excellent table listing herbicides, their properties and cautions and instructions on their use in the University of Tennessee article.

According to Nature's Herbal, it is edible.  Maybe if you try and like those smoothies, you could control it that way—by eating it!


More Edible Plants Questions

Identification of tree with strawberry-like fruit in North Carolina
September 24, 2011 - While visiting Boone, North Carolina we walked the Greenway in town. There were a few trees with a round red fruit similar to a strawberry. They were about the size of a penny and a dull red color dot...
view the full question and answer

Edible plants beginning with I, T, X and Z in Colorado
March 26, 2009 - My friend would like to know a fruit or vegetable that he would plant in his garden and come back yearly. The plants would have to start with the letters I,T,X, & Z. It has to be edible, of course.
view the full question and answer

Are gourds poisonous, edible?
August 27, 2008 - Are all the Gourds edible? How can I know which one is which? If it is not edible, is it poisonous? If not, what is stopping us from eating them?
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cnidoscolus texanus (Texas bullnettle)
July 18, 2013 - Hello,I need your help to control some nasty weeds in my yard/pasture. I am an old timer and do not have a picture to include—haven't figured out that part of the camera/phone yet. This weed is a pri...
view the full question and answer

Native Fruits for Texas Hill Country
March 31, 2009 - Can you recommend a species of blackberry for San Antonio or any other fruit that will be compatible in my garden? (mostly Hill Country Native, thanks to Ladybird). The local store has raspberries, bu...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center