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lamium album L.
Lamium, is derived from the Greek word laimos (the throat), in allusion to the form of the blossom.
Syn.: Lamium levigatum, maculatum, capitatum, vulgatum
German: Weißer Bienensaug
English: Dead Nettle
Ita: ortica bianca
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Lamiidae / Tubiflorae; Lamiales; Labiatae / Lamiaceae - Mint Family
This drug was first proven by Hahnemann and Stapf.
Description of the substance
The White Dead-Nettle owes its name of Nettle to the fact that the plant as a whole bears a strong general resemblance to the Stinging Nettle, for which it may easily be mistaken in the early spring, before it is in bloom; but the flowers are absolutely different in the two plants, which are quite unrelated. It can, moreover, be always readilydistinguished from the Stinging Nettle, even when not in flower, by the squareness and hollowness of its stem.
The 'Dead' in its name refers to its inability to sting. Lord Avebury points out that this resemblance is a clever adaption of nature.
'It cannot be doubted that the true nettle is protected by its power of stinging, and that being so, it is scarcely less clear that the Dead Nettle must be protected by its likeness to the other,'
the two species being commonly found growing together. The resemblance serves probably not only as a protection against browsing quadrupeds, but also against leaf-eating insects.
Many other country names refer to this false suggestion of stinging power. In some localities it is called White Archangel, or Archangel alone, probably because it first comes into flower about the day dedicated to the Archangel Michael, May 8, old style - eleven days earlier than our May 8.
This plant is also known as the Bee Nettle, because bees visit it freely for the honey which it provides lavishly. The flower is specially built to encourage bee visitors - especially the bumble bee. In the axils of the leaves are whorls, or rings, of the flowers each ring composed of six to twelve blossoms of a delicate creamy white; out of the spiky green, five-pointed calyx rises the white petal tube, which expands into an erection of very irregular shape, composed of five petals, one forming the lip, two the hood, and two form the little wings.
Four stamens lie in pairs along the back of the flower, with their heads well up under the hood and their faces downwards. The long column from the ovary also lies with them, but its top, the stigma, hangs a little out beyond the pollen-bearing anthers of the stamens. At the bottom of the corolla-tube is a rich store of honey.
When a bee visits the flower, he alights on the lower lip, thrusts his proboscis down the petal tube, which is nearly 1/2 inch long, and reaches the honey, his back fitting meanwhile exactly into the conformation of the corolla, so that he first, as he settles on the lip, rubs the projecting stigmas with the pollen already on his back (thus affecting the fertilization of the flower), and then presses on to the stamens and gets dusted with their pollen in exchange, and this is then passed on to the next flower he visits. Unless the insect visitor is a big one, his back will not fill the cavity and neither stigma nor stamens are touched. The honey is placed in such a position that only the big humble bees with their long probosces can reach it. The flower also guards against smaller insects creeping down its tube by placing a barrier of hairs round it just above the honey. Some insects, whose tongues are too short to reach the honey, get at it by biting through the wall of the white tube right down at its base, and sucking away the honey without taking any share in the fertilization of the flower.
When the flower fades, the green calyx still remains to protect the tiny nutlets. It is somewhat stiffened, and when the nutlets are ripe and ready for dispersal, any pressure upon it forces it back and on the pressure being removed, the nuts are shot out with some force.
The plant is to be found in flower from May almost until December. The heartshaped leaves, with their saw-like margins, are placed on the square, hollow stems in pairs, each pair exactly at right angles to the one above and below. Both stems and leaves are covered with small rough hairs, and contain certain essential oils which probably make them distasteful to cattle, even after their powerlessness to sting has been discovered. When bruised, the whole plant has a strong, rather disagreeable smell.
The corners of the hollow stems are strengthened by specially strong columns of fibres. In the country, boys often cut the stems and make whistles out of them.
The generic name of the Dead Nettles Lamium, is derived from the Greek word laimos (the throat), in allusion to the form of the blossom.