Nettle is a good plant to learn about beforecoming across it in the wild.
Beginning in early spring large patches can be found in most undeveloped areas.
Knowing how to identify this plant could save you from getting stung by the tiny hairs on the stems and undersides of the leaves.
There are several other plants that look similar which often grow near nettle. With a bit of experience you’ll be able to spot it from a distance though.
In early spring the plant will be low to the ground with a unique display of leaves.
By mid summer the plants can be as tall 6 feet! They tend to grow in large clusters and will “dance” around gracefully in the breeze.
Leaves will be larger at the bottom and smaller towards the top.
In a breeze they bob around and appear to be waving.
The dark green leaves grow off of square, reddish stems and have a unique, heart-like shape.
Nettle is a nutritional powerhouse high in minerals and chlorophyll.
It’s a wonderful all-around tonic herb.
Despite the dark green color, an infusion of this herb tastes milky. Many children love the taste and, if offered a tumbler of it to drink instead of milk or sugary juices, will benefit from the easily assimilative vitamins and minerals this herb offers.
Nursing mothers appreciate this herb as well. A daily infusion is said to help regulate milk production and help ensure a rich supply of nutritious breast milk, while providing increased stamina for new mothers.
In the spring you can gather the new tops and steam as you would spinach. (Try them with a dash of vinegar.)
In early summer, cut and hang the longer stems and leaves in a well-ventilated place until completely dry.
People react differently to the sting of nettles but for the most part you can expect a painful stinging sensation that can last for hours. It doesn’t do any damage but depending on the amount of exposure a nettle sting can be quite uncomfortable.
Fortunately, nature has provided sting relief in the form of another valuable herb called yellow dock, which can almost always be found growing near a stand of nettles. Should you get a sting look around for some dock leaves and rub the crushed leaves directly on the skin.This will relieve the pain almost instantly.
My children love to harvest nettles with me every spring. They are quite good at it and hardly ever get stung. They look forward to the steamed tops with olive oil and tamari.