Stinging Nettle

Urtica Dioica

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Beavercreek Marsh, Vancouver Washington
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Beavercreek Marsh, Vancouver Washington

No doubt if your an avid hiker, camper, or just an outdoors adventurer – you are more than likely familiar with Stinging Nettle. Yet probably even more familiar with the stinging of the Nettle.  Despite a quickly learned rough run in, Stinging Nettle actually provides much more than the painful evidence of our hands on experience.


Did you know…

 

Stinging Nettle (scientifically known as Urtica dioica) is actually one of nature’s super foods? Both rich in vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and protein. It is a great source of Vitamins A, B6, K, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus, and Potassium! Though still unclear as to whether the Native Americans use of this plant was introduced by the Europeans, it is still often regarded as Indian Spinach. In early spring (before maturity) the young shoots were eaten, either cooked or roasted.

The stinging hairs contain formic acid, a skin irritant.
The stinging hairs contain histamines & formic acid causing skin irritation.

Traditionally
Stinging Nettle has been used to treat a number of ailments such as arthritis, gout, anemia, joint and muscle pain. A poultice was to treat eczema, burns, cuts, and hemorrhoids.  And because of its diuretic and digestive properties, it is still popular today in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Laboratory research suggest that Stinging Nettle has similar effects as finasteride – a medication in the treatment of BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia).

Once brushed against, the tiny hair is broken transforming it into a needle.
Once brushed against, the tiny hair is broken transforming it into a needle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

In the Kitchen

Stinging Nettle has found itself as the base ingredient in many popular dishes.  Everything from a gourmet pesto to a simple pizza topping. Here is a list of tasty recipes worth trying out.

Nettle Pesto
Nettle Pesto

http://honest-food.net/foraging-recipes/greens-and-herbs/nettle-pesto/

Nettle Pasta
Nettle Pasta

http://www.wildedible.com/blog/handmade-nettle-pasta

Nettle Soup
Nettle Soup

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2137636/nettle-soup

Nettle Tea
Nettle Tea

http://eartheasy.com/blog/2010/03/nettle-tea-how-to-make-a-natural-spring-tonic/

Nettle Pizza
Nettle Pizza

http://sierraclub.typepad.com/greenlife/2012/06/wild-greens-recipes-stinging-nettle-pizza.html

Nettle Ravioli
Nettle Ravioli

http://honest-food.net/2013/04/21/nettle-ravioli-recipe/

Nettle Chips
Nettle Chips

http://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/stinging-nettle-chips-like-kale-chips-but-more-awesome/

Nettle Smoothie
Nettle Smoothie

http://www.earthsprout.com/?p=1248


 

 Field Study

 

 

Description

Perennial with vigorous spreading rhizomes, hairy and accompanied with stouter stinging hairs. Leafy stems growing upright to 5ft tall. Tiny green to yellow flowers; dense drooping clusters born from leaf axils and stem tips during summer.


 

Ecology

Nitrogen rich soil, meadows, thickets, stream banks, wetlands and open forest. Growing  in clusters in disturbed habitats such as logging ruins, pastures , barnyards, roadsides; always in moist soil. Common, locally abundant, from the lowlands up to sub-alpine elevations.

 


 Harvest

Stem and leaves good for food. Best picked when young. As soon as late January or early February while the shoots are still tender and sting is minimal. In mature plants cook or dry leaves to rid the sting. Use roots year round for medicinal purposes.



 

Till next time – HAPPY FORAGING!

Questions, Comments and Advice is always welcome.
Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment box.

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