A sure sign of spring is the new nettle shoots that are growing on the perennial nettle Urtica dioica (below left)
- . Urtica urens (left) is the other common variety which is annual stinging nettle or dwarf nettle which I have been eating all winter. It doesn’t mind cooler weather.
- Annual nettle is common in gardens, under trees and waste places, preferring light soils grows up to 60cm tall usually on a single stem, and has short stinging bristles on the stems & serrated leaves has clusters of tiny flowers in the leaf axils where the leaf meets the stem (photo below)
- perennial clump forming nettle
- to 1.5m tall if left undisturbed. It goes to flower in summer and the tall stems die and it goes dormant over winter.
- I grew mine in two containers to stop it spreading and we cut it down regularly and soaked it for 7-21 days to make a nutritious liquid plant food – it is said to be an insect repellent and a good foliar feed for plants
brushing the leaves of both varieties of nettle causes tiny bristles to release the poison histamine which stings
an antidote usually grows nearby such as dock or plantain – rub the leaves on the affected area
- grasping the leaves firmly (as in the saying “grasp the nettle” and be decisive) avoids being stung or use scissors to cut the leaves
- the sting becomes harmless when the leaves are dried, cooked or blended
- great in quiches, frittatas and soup (recipe below) as well as smoothies. Use like spinach or silver beet.Nutritional qualities
- nettles are highly valued by herbalists for their healing properties
- powerful blood cleansing and blood building plants
- rich in iron they are beneficial for anaemia, and other blood disorders and to boost energy levels
- diuretic (reducing excess water in the body)
- hair tonic, boil some leaves and once cooled rinse your hair with the strained liquid
- diminishes the susceptibility to colds
- restores digestion and deeply nourishes, because of so much nutrition
- Nettles are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and chlorophyll, high in chromium, cobalt, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and sulphur and protein B Vitamins,Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A
- Nettle helps lessen allergies and menopausal problems
- as well as being a powerful preventative of rheumatism
- This is a wonderful wild plant, that deserves greater appreciation.Recipes
To make an infusion (strong steeped tea): use 30gms dried leaves or two handfuls of cut-up fresh leaves in a quart/litre preserving jar. Fill the jar with boiling water, put the lid on and let it steep overnight at room temperature. Drink 1 or 2 cups per day.
You can also make a tea using an amount that gives you the strength of tea you like (maybe a teaspoon) of leaves in a teapot, steeping the brew for 5 minutes and then enjoy.
- 4 large handfuls of nettle tops (use gloves and ‘grasp the nettle’)
- 1 large onion
- 50 gm butter or coconut oil
- 2 potatoes 1 litre of vegetable stock
- 1 tbs crème fraîsche or yoghurt
- Seasoning including grated nutmeg
- Strip the nettles from the thicker stalks and wash
- Melt the butter and simmer chopped onion until translucent
- Add the nettles and chopped potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, using a wooden spoon now and then to crush the potatoes
- Add the seasoning with a little grated nutmeg and a swirl of crème fraîsche or yoghurt
- If you prefer a smoother soup, liquidise before serving.
- Reheat, add the other seasonings and serve. from
- “Food for Free” by Richard Mabey, Harper Collins Press, 1972.Nettle Smoothie– really yum!!
lots of greens like kale, chickweed, hollyhock leaves, lettuce, speedwell, including three sprigs of nettle, a banana, blueberries, a kiwifruit, some chia, turmeric and 250mls water. All blended up together to get the bubbly result below!