Variegated Yellow Archangel identification

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What is Variegated yellow archangel?

Variegated yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon argentatum) is a herbaceous perennial plant which belongs to the mint family. This species’ origins are unknown, but we do know that the plant was introduced to the UK as an ornamental.

Like most non-native invasive plants, Variegated yellow archangel thrives in many soil types and climates, however it prefers partial shade. Once established, it quickly becomes resilient to drought. While generally robust and undemanding, it may attract pests like slugs and snails. Beyond its ornamental value, Variegated yellow archangel is reputed for its medicinal benefits, traditionally applied to treat diverse ailments. However, there is no credible scientific evidence of the plant’s efficacy.



What does Variegated yellow archangel look like?

Being a member of the mint family, Variegated yellow archangel has many of the family’s characteristics. Small, serrated leaves, green stems and a fleshy, shallow root system that is incredibly easy to propagate.

Variegated yellow archangel leaves: The plant is most easily identified by its variegated (two-toned) silver and green heart-shaped leaves, which distinguishes it from its native counterpart Yellow Archangel, and other garden plants in the same family as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). The leaves grow in opposing pairs up the stem and have toothed edges.

Variegated yellow archangel flowers: From late spring to early autumn, Variegated yellow archangel has small, hooded yellow flowers that grow from the stem. 

Variegated yellow archangel roots: Like many of its minty family, the roots of Variegated yellow archangel spread quickly, via fleshy runners that grow just below the soil surface, and root at the nodes. These runners are extremely productive and can spread quickly to colonise an area. Like many rhizomatous plants, they also survive as fragments, which is why the plant is easily spread through gardening practices.  

Is Variegated yellow archangel an invasive plant?

Yes, Variegated yellow archangel is considered an invasive species and has become a problem in the UK, which is why the plant is currently listed under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales, meaning it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow this species in the wild.

The invasive characteristics of Variegated yellow archangel include rapid spread via garden waste, fly-tipping and movement of infested soils.

The plant roots from stem fragments and grows in shady locations (woodland and hedges), where it can dominate the understory layer at the expense of native plants.

When growing in the wild, Variegated yellow archangel becomes invasive, forming dense patches and outcompeting native plant species, preventing native resources forming.

What's the difference between Yellow archangel and Variegated yellow archangel?

Yellow archangel is a native woodland plant, with the variegated subspecies being the non-native import. Yellow archangel is common through woodland in the UK, appearing in spring, and growing to around 45cm in height. The plant resembles stinging nettle, with hairy serrated leaves, but has yellow, hooded flowers.

Variegated yellow archangel usually has a more creeping habit and is smaller in stature than native yellow archangel. However, the obvious difference between the two is the colouration of the leaves. Variegated yellow archangel has a striking silver pattern, whereas our native variety has solid green leaves. Both are serrated, share angled stems, and have yellow flowers.

Yellow archangel comparison with Variagated

What does Variegated yellow archangel look
like in Autumn and Winter?

With Autumn and Winter bringing colder temperatures, the plant goes into dormancy and its growth will start to slowdown.

However, throughout the year, the plant remains easily identifiable due to its evergreen silver and green leaves. These leaves, arranged in opposing pairs reminiscent of wings, contribute to its name “archangel” and feature toothed edges.

Square stems, a characteristic common to most mint family plants, are also present. The plant is characterised by rough hairs covering its surface and emits a distinctive scent.

VYA Autumn

How does Variegated yellow archangel grow?

The growth cycle of Variegated yellow archangel typically follows these stages:

  • Spring emergence: In spring, variegated yellow archangel begins its growth cycle. New shoots and leaves start to unfurl, showcasing the characteristic variegated green and silver
  • Vegetative growth: During late spring and early summer, the plant focuses on vegetative growth. It produces an abundance of leaves on its spreading stems, forming a dense groundcover.
  • Flowering stage: In late spring and early summer, Variegated yellow archangel produces small, yellow flowers. These flowers add a burst of colour to the plant and are often held above the foliage. The flowering stage is crucial for reproduction as the plant produces seeds.
  • Seed formation: After flowering, the plant forms seeds. These seeds develop in small capsules and contribute to the plant’s ability to spread and colonise new areas.
  • Summer growth and maintenance: Throughout the summer, the plant continues to spread and fill in spaces as a groundcover.
  • Autumn/winter dormancy: As temperatures drop in autumn and winter, Variegated yellow archangel may enter a period of stagnation. While the leaves are evergreen, there might be a slowdown in growth during the winter months.

Interesting facts about Variegated yellow archangel

  • Variegated yellow archangel is known by various common names, including “Dead Nettle” and “Yellow Archangel.”
  • The name “Archangel” is believed to come from the shape of its leaves, which are thought to resemble the wings of an archangel.
  • The yellow flowers of Variegated yellow archangel attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
  • While many plants in the mint family are used for culinary purposes, Variegated yellow archangel is not typically consumed.
  • Variegated yellow archangel can grow up to 45cm in height.

Is Variegated yellow archangel
a problem?


Variegated yellow archangel is a tough plant that can grow almost anywhere, regardless of soil type or weather conditions. Because the plant is so resilient, it outcompetes native plants, which can upset the balance of our ecosystem. It takes up space, making it harder for other native plants and animals to get the resources they need. Because there aren’t any natural enemies to keep it in check, the plant is hard to control.

This is why the plant is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales, meaning it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow this species in the wild.

What can you do? Variegated yellow archangel removal methods

  • Once established, Variegated yellow archangel can become a real nuisance and can be difficult to remove. There are however a few removal methods available, but not all of them are equally efficient:
  • Hand pulling is the first method, which could spring to mind. However, it will not be effective, as the runners are easily fragmented. These will persist and re-establish the infestation quickly.
  • Foliar herbicide application is an efficient way to control the plant. However, this should be only left to the professionals, as inaccurate application could accidentally kill other plants.
  • Mechanical excavation could remove all stolon runners and plant material down to 50cm minimum, however, it’s a costly option where professionals would also need to remove and dispose of all elements of the plant. The reason for this, is that non-native invasive plant species are categorised as ‘controlled waste’ under the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations. If taken off site, the plant waste can only be disposed of in registered landfill sites. Remember to never dispose of it in your normal green waste or household waste.


Find out more by visiting our Variegated yellow archangel removal page.

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