Nettles. Most people are familiar with nettles if only because of its sting. If you haven’t experienced nettles’ sting, maybe you need to get out more! This common plant can be found most anywhere; roadsides, edges of trails, along river banks, most any place you might want to walk. And once you wander through a bit of nettles, you’ll remember this plant for a lifetime. Its sting comes from small hairs that cover its stem and leaves that release a combination of chemicals when touched. The burn is temporary though and rarely lasts much longer than an hour or two. That is, unless you go harvesting nettle some afternoon in just shorts and a t-shirt..then you can expect the burn to last a bit longer, maybe even until the next day!
Anakin got bored and took a nap 🙂
We don’t just harvest nettles because it’s so much fun, it also happens to be a plant with an amazing multitude of uses! As a young plant nettles make a delicious cooking green since it loses its sting in the heat. As an older plant it makes a great dried herb for teas and infusions. It’s full of Calcium, Vitamin A, Protein, Iron and Magnesium. The list of medical benefits for both internal and topical use of nettles is as long as my arm and really it warrants an entire blog post of its own. For the more adventurous, nettles can even be used to make strings, ropes and even fabric!
We mostly use our dried nettles as a nourishing herbal tea. Warm tea is a great way to enjoy the benefits of this healthy plant, especially when mixed with some peppermint and honey! We’re also hoping to try nettles in one of our salves since it has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory.
If you have a chance, get out there and find yourself some nettles. Throw them in some soup or saute them with some of your favorite veggies. Maybe even dry some to have for tea and keep yourself good and healthy this winter.. whatever you choose to do with this common roadside “weed”, let me suggest that you don’t wear shorts when you go out to gather it!