This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Like Purple Dead Nettle the White Dead Nettle is modern, so far as we know, and is found to-day throughout the North Temperate Zone in Europe, N. Africa, N. Asia, and is an introduced plant in N. America. In Great Britain it is universally common, but absent in Cardigan, Anglesea, Mid Lancs, I. of Man, N. Aberdeen, Elgin, Easterness, and is not found in the N. Highlands or North Isles except in Dumbarton. So it ranges from Moray to the south coast, but is rare and local in Scotland and Ireland.
As remarked under Purple Dead Nettle, this species is much more truly indigenous or addicted to a truly wild type of station. At the same time, it is nowhere more common than on waste or cultivated land. Its favourite situation is under a hedge on a high bank, with a gentle, or even steep, slope to the south.
The plant is prostrate, then erect in habit. The rootstock is creeping, branched, and the plant is stoloniferous. The stems are square in section, rooting and branching from the base, then erect. The leaves are heart-shaped to egg-shaped, with a long and narrow point, stalked, coarsely toothed, scalloped, rarely spotted or blotched with white. The lower leaves are long-stalked. The leaves and whole plant resemble the true Nettle, and this may be an example of protective resemblance. The two often grow together.
The flowers are white, rarely pink, large, in whorls of 6-10, crowded above, distant below. The hairs in a ring on the curved corolla-tube, which is longer than the calyx, are oblique. The calyx is smooth or hairy, with narrow, straight, triangular to awl-like teeth, the points long and slender, as long as or longer than the tube, which is straight. The corolla-tube is swollen below. The throat is gradually inflated. The upper lip is vaulted, softly hairy. The lateral lobes are variable. The anthers are hairy, and the outer or the inner stamens may be the longer. The nutlets have no scales.
The plant is 1 ft. high. It flowers in April up to September. It is a perennial propagated by division.
Honey lies in the rather narrower portion of the tube. The vaulted upper lip amply protects it from the rain, and the ring of hairs also serves the same purpose. The lip is broad above this narrower part, the tube expanding above; and this serves as an alighting place for insects, especially large bees, which are able to penetrate to the bottom of the narrow portion, whilst smaller bees cannot. The hairs near the base of the tube exclude creeping insects. The lower lip has lateral projections, rudiments of lateral petals of primitive Dead Nettles, which serve as levers for the insect, to push its proboscis down the tube. The anthers and pistil are covered by the arched upper lip, and this prevents them from yielding too readily, ensuring that pollen brought by the insect from other flowers is applied to the stigma.
Photo. B. Hanley - White Dead Nettle (Lamium Album, L.)
The stamens do not form a ring, and one is absent or rudimentary, and the 4 lie, 2 on each side of the pistil under the lip, 2 long, 2 short, in such a position that they touch that part of the bee's head that will in the next flower touch the stigma and not the eyes. The bee touches the stigma first, then the anthers, and so pollinates the stigma with pollen from a previous flower.
The White Dead Nettle is visited by Bombus, honey bees, Antho-phora, Eucera, Melecta, Halictus, Diptera, Rhingia rostrata, being specially adapted to humble-bees. The nutlets fall free around the parent plant when ripe.
White Dead Nettle is a clay-loving plant and addicted to a clay soil, but is equally a sand plant and grows on sand soil, being common on Triassic, Liassic, and Boulder Clay rock soils.
It is a food plant for several beetles, Meligethes difficilis, M. kunzei. M. brunnicornis, M. pedicularius, and the Lepidoptera, Golden Y-Moth (Plusia iota), Speckled Yellow (Venilia maculata), and the Small Rivulet (Lygris alchemillata), and the Burnished Brass Moth.
The second Latin name refers to the white colour of the flowers. Other names for this plant are: Archangel, White Archangel, Bee-nettle, Blind Nettle, Day Nettle, Dead Nettle, White Dead Nettle, Deaf Nettle, Dee Nettle, Dumb Nettle, Dummy Nettle, Dunny Nettle, Nettle, White Nettle, Snake Flower, Stingy Nettle, Suck-bottle, Suckie Sue. In Italy the plant is assigned to St. Vincent.
The leaves have been eaten in Sweden as a pot-herb. The smell is disagreeable when bruised. Boys make whistles of the stalks. It has been used in internal, lung disorders, the leaves being bruised for tumours and scrofula. It has also been used as a tea or herbal drink.
Essential Specific Characters:259. Lamium album, L. - Stem erect, stout, leaves cordate, serrate, stalked, flowers large, white, with an oblique ring of hairs in the curved corolla-tube, upper lip arched.