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Old 09-07-2018, 04:49 PM
tigsteele tigsteele is offline
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Default Stinging Nettles / Urtica Dioica

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Stinging Nettles
Urtica Dioica

(See full blog post with pictures here)

I have heard of nettles referred to as the most nutritious plant in the world. While I'm skeptical of this claim, I have no doubt that this is way up there on the list. It's loaded with protein, vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese and calcium.
Stinging nettle is fairly abundant near any water source or wetlands that has plenty of sun. The plant consists of a single grooved stalk with opposing leaves alternating up to the top and grows in colonies connected by it's root structure.

If you have any doubts about whether or not it's a stinging nettle, just touch it. That should make for a fairly positive ID. There is actually another look alike that will sting as well, but it is also a nettle and edible in the same way, though not nearly as nutritious. As I understand it there are no poisonous look alikes and definitely none that sting.
The stings come from small hallow hairs that act like hypodermic needles and inject histamine, serotonin and other chemical compounds that trick the nervous system in feeling pain, though the histamines can cause inflammation, the actual damage to the body is minimal, though the sting can last days with some of the species.

The plant is best when it's still under a foot tall, at that point all the leaves will be tender. Though even later in the year when the plant reaches it's full 5 - 7 feet, you still eat the younger leaves at the top without worrying about the leaves becoming tough and bitter.

Cooking the leaves in just about any manner will remove the stinging from the plant. After hitting boiling water for a few seconds, a few seconds over a fire (both sides) or even soaking them in water for several hours will allow the plant to be handled or eaten without discomfort. The taste is something along the line of spinach, though that might just be because I usually boil them.
Besides being boiled or steamed, the leaves can be singed and used in a salad or dried to be used as a nutritious tea or seasoning you can use to add vitamins and it's unique taste to any meal later on.
The outer layer or 'bark' if you will is full of long fibers that makes strong cordage and has even been used to make fabric for thousands of years.

Nettles have long been used for arthritis treatment and is supposedly good for people with allergies, making a tea out of dried stinging nettle supposedly helps with allergies by acting as a natural anti histamine. Though there have been many claims for the medicinal uses of nettle. If you're interest in them, check here.
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Old 09-13-2018, 05:38 PM
Major Mjolnir Major Mjolnir is offline
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My nettles, both "Urtica dioica" aka 'Stinging Nettle' and "Laportea canadensis" aka 'Canada nettle or wood-nettle' are currently blooming and in a few days I will collect and eat some of the seed. As the OP suggests, last week I walked through the woodland glade where most of mine grow and twisted out a few of the top leaves for a nibble.
This time of year if you look closely at the leaves you can see tiny white spots. These are specialized cells called cystoliths that contain amorphous calcium carbonate and a tiny amount of silica. There are a few reports of people having kidney and urinary tract problems from eating these older nettle leaves in quantity.
My usual practice is to eat the young leaves in the Spring, collect seeds in the Fall and to bushhog the glade a couple of times a year to get fresh re-growth of the leaves. As I have posted before, 'stinging nettle' is truly one of the most nutritous and useful (fiber) plants in the World and best of all it is native and perennial!
Originally Posted by Major Mjolnir View Post
...remarkably high protein values for dried nettle leaf. I've seen values ranging from: "The content of proteins in [dried] leaves ranged from 16.08 +/- 0.38% to 26.89 +/- 0.39% depending on the locality where the sample was collected."
to: "Chemical analysis showed the relatively higher level of crude protein (33.8%), crude fiber (9.1%), crude fat (3.6%), total ash (16.2%), carbohydrate (37.4%), and relatively lower energy value [dried leaves] (307 kcal/100 g) as compared to wheat and barley flours."
Acorn flour will give me about 30% of the protein of Nettle leaf flour but almost 40% more calories per 100g serving.
That being said, we should all utilize more nettles.
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foraging, nettles, stinging nettles, wild edibles

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