Stinging Nettles

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Edible Plants, Pacific Northwest

Stinging Nettle, BC Coastal Region
Stinging Nettle, Photo By Bud Logan

Stinging nettle is the name given to common nettle or garden nettle, and hybrids of these two plants. Originally from the colder regions of northern Europe and Asia, this herbaceous shrub grows all over the world today. Stinging nettle grows well in nitrogen rich soil, blooms between June and September, and reaches up to 2 meter high.

Stems are upright and rigid. The leaves are heart shaped, finely toothed, and tapered at the ends, and flowers are yellow or pink. The entire plant is covered with tiny stiff hairs, mostly on the underside of the leaves and stem, that release stinging chemicals when touched. You only have to brush by it to feel the effects.

When Nettle is cooked it tastes a lot like spinach so it can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach. It can be steamed or boiled in the same way. If your harvesting fresh plants use only the young shoots that occur before flowering. Don’t forget the gloves! Dried nettle weed can be used in anything. I’ve used it in soups, stews, chili and even lasagna! The nettle holds more Iron than spinach making it a healthy choice as a wild food.

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