Carol immediately identified it as Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) which she described as "one of the first flowers of spring", a member of the mint family. It was picked in the middle of a sunny dandelion patch. Henbit is a winter annual with square stems and pink-purple flowers that reach 16 inches in height.
Henbit is a winter annual weed that has oppositely arranged leaves with lobed margins. Stems are hairy and square; they typically grow in an upright fashion but can grow prostrate and occasionally root at nodes. Flowers occur in the axils of upper leaves. They are pale purple, long (up to 3/8 inch), and trumpet-shaped. Henbit is found in moist soils and can be especially troublesome in turf during early spring.
The nectar and pollen of the early blooming flowers attract long-tongued bees primarily, including honeybees and bumblebees. The foliage is eaten by voles and box turtles, while rabbits rarely bother it. In addition, the common name comes from its seeds, which are said to be savory to hens and chickens (hence "hen bit").
According to the Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide, this plant is often confused with purple or red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). The distingusining feature if that purple deadnettle has upper leaves that are triangular, occur on petioles, and are distinctly red or purple tined, unlike the upper leaves of henbit. These subtle differences were interesting enough to offer Max an opportunity for comparing and contrasting in today's nature journal entry.