Useful Winter Weeds: Chickweed, Bittercress and Henbit

1 / 4
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4

It’s easy to get rid of weeds in your garden. It’s what the majority of us do, although in most cases it’s warranted there are times we are destroying valuable plants. Surprisingly, some weeds offer both medicinal and nutritional value. Examples are the winter weeds we will be looking at. Winter weeds will germinate at the set of fall, bloom, and produce seeds in spring.

Photo by Pixabay


You’ve probably encountered henbit in your garden. You just didn’t know its appearance. It’s scientifically known as Lamium amplexicaule. Native to Asia, North America, and Europe, this weed grows to a height of 10 to 25cm. They are members of the family Lamiaceae.

How to Identify It?

They are low growing. It has soft hairy stems, round leaves, which are opposite and have a lobed margin with pink/purple flowers. It flowers in spring and is an annual plant. The upper leaves aren’t stalked while the lower leaves are. Propagates by seeds and will be found growing openly in fields and gardens. They are nettle like appearance but doesn’t sting.

Does It Have Any Benefits?

When the flowers bloom, they make a colorful show, especially when they are many together. The stems, leaves, and flowers are edible with a range of nutritional values. It can be consumed either raw in salads or green smoothies or cooked in soups, among others. It benefits the body in the following ways:


High in iron

High in vitamins

How to Effectively Control Henbit

Before they start seeding, you’ll have to remove them from your garden. That’s because they produce thousands of seeds, which can prove challenging to control. There’s the option of using weed killers that won’t damage your lawn.

Henbit Uses During Winter

Henbit is useful for holding the soil during winter storms. As previously mentioned, the flowers offer a beautiful floral arrangement. They are also a source of nectar for the bees.

Photo by NeedPix


Scientifically referred to as Cardamine hirsute, the hairy bittercress is another common weed you’ll likely encounter in your garden. It’s a member of the family Brassicaceae (Mustard).

How to Identify It?

The hairy bittercress grows in moist places across the world. Depending on its geographical location, the weed will be either a biennial or an annual plant. During winter, they are green and will start to flower in spring. It can grow to a maximum height of 30cm, and branches at the base. It will have white petals.

Does Hairy Bittercress Have Any Benefits?

It’s an edible plant with a range of benefits which include:

It’s rich in antioxidants and has medicinal value

Hairy bittercrest makes a good parsley substitute in foods

The white flowers add aesthetic value to your garden

How to Effectively Control Bittercress

Controlling this weed isn’t as challenging. They are short-lived plants with a shallow root system. That implies they can be hand cultivated, or you can use chemicals. There’s also the option of using mulch, which restricts their growth.

Bittercress Uses During Winter

It’s an excellent aphid trap crop during winter. While other plants become wrinkly during winter, they remain in firm condition. It makes them a good cover crop for the season.

Photo by Pixabay


Scientifically known as Stellaria media, chickweed is a member of the family Caryophyllaceae. An annual flowering plant is native to Europe but also found in North America and other mild winter climates across the globe. There is another type of chickweed plant. However, this particular one is called common chickweed, or craches, winterweed, maruns, and chickenwort.

How to Identify Healthy Chickweed?

They can grow to a maximum height of 40cm with slender, weak stems. They have scarce hairs that have a line like an appearance on the stem. The leaves are oval-shaped and opposite on the stem. The flowers are small and white in color.

Benefits of Chickweed

There are numerous benefits of chickweed. Other than being nutritious, it also does have other health benefits. It’s a useful herb when dieting for weight management as when consumed as a tea before a meal. It significantly minimizes fat uptake. It also has medicinal benefits. To effectively control it, weed killers that won’t damage your garden will come in handy.

Chickweed Uses During Winter

The healthy chickweed creates a good cover crop during the cold season. As the name suggests, chickweed is good forage for chicken. They will consume the stems and leaves. Although not enough that they can put the weed under control.

We tend to generalize all weeds as being a menace in our gardens. However, that’s dangerous because they have numerous benefits. When you know how to kill dandelions or any such weed without damaging the rest of the garden is the best thing for you.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.