Cooley’s Hedge Nettle

Cooley's Hedge Nettle, Vancouver Island, BC
Cooley’s Hedge Nettle, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Cooley’s Hedge Nettle, although a true Nettle, it does not sting. The Plant grows profusely on the south coast of BC.

Cooley’s Hedge Nettle is an attractive perennial arising 70 to 150 cm high from a rhizome. The stem is erect and usually singular. The leaves are mostly on the square stems, where they are opposite. The leaves are pubescent on both surfaces.

The flowers are arranged in a series of whorls, the flowers being on the upper part of the stem. Cooley’s Hedge Nettle grows mostly in swamps and moist low ground along the ocean edge, but may be found from sea level to nearly 4000 ft in elevation.

Cooley’s Hedge Nettle is found from the Northwest Pacific coast east to the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains,  from southern British Columbia south to southern Oregon and all the coastal islands.

The Nuu-chah-nulth fishermen wiped their hands on this plant before handling their gear to lessen the scent left on it. The Saanich peoples made spring tonic by steeping the crushed rhizomes in boiling water. The Haida used to chew on the young stems. The Green River and Puyallup peoples used the hedge nettle to cure boils. The Quileute used the hedge nettle as a cure for rheumatism. The Quinalt peoples sucked the nectar from the flowers and covered steaming bulbs with hedge nettle plants to aid in the steaming process.

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