Monday, September 8, 2008

Spot the nettle!

This is an overgrown patch of city council land, just across the road from us.

I got so excited yesterday when I was walking past it and suddenly saw - in amongst all the usual puha and onionweed and nasturtium and chickweed and black nightshade and hemlock - that single, little nettle plant.

To spot it you'll probably have to click on the pic to make it big. (And if by any chance you think I've misidentified it, and it's not an Urtica at all, but just a dead-nettle or something like that ... do let me know, but break it to me gently!)

On our wild foraging email list there's been some talk of nettles, and one member's enthusiasm for their nutritional and medicinal qualities is catching. I've been hoping for a few weeks to find some growing wild, but couldn't recall ever seeing any in my neighbourhood. Then suddenly - there it was.

Here it is close up.

Now what shall I do with it ...? Cook up some leaves for our dinner? Gather some and dry them for tea? Take cuttings and try and grow some more in our back yard?

It's a lot to ask of one little plant. Perhaps I'll just let it be for a few days while I think about it. (And wait to see if anyone pulls the rug out from under my feet and tells me it's not a real nettle at all ...)

Here's a nice article about nettles.


Lynda Eichler said...

Hiya Johanna - Sure looks like nettle to me. Gardening (weeding) at Tangi was a whole different experience this weekend (thanks to you and the Wild Foraging Group!). I was studying every weed before I plucked it from the ground lol. We usually have a lot of nettle hiding in the vege plot weeds and I've had many wrong encounters with it in the past. But this time, K and I were snipping it with our gloves on and making teas. Thanks for posting that article, you've inspired me to try steaming it next time ! Love to hear what you decide to do with your find ! XX

Nikki said...

I found what I thought was some nettle in my garden a week back, but wasn't sure. I armed myself with a dock leaf first and then tentatively touched it. No sting. But did you know that dock is apparently meant to take away the sting if it does happen?

The other day I found what could have been puha (well really, I don't have first hand experience of being shown so not too sure), so would have been nice to know.

Johanna Knox said...

Lynda - fantastic! You have no idea how pleased I am to get your confirmation. :o) Does K drink the tea too?

Nikki - Interesting about it not stinging ... My son touched the one over the road from us and didn't get a sting either ...maybe sometimes you don't, depending on how or where you touch it? (Or on something else?)

Funnily enough I did know that about dock leaves. My parents are cleaning out their house - getting ready to move, and the other week they found an old handwritten book I had made when I was about 10, called 'Herbal Brews' ... and ... okay ... digging it out ... here's what I wrote in a chapter called 'Pain Relievers':

'Rubbing nettle on some muscles will ease the pain ... but what about the sting of the nettle? Actually rubbing a dock leaf on a nettle sting is a well known cure and it works.'

There are a few crack up lines in the book, but some quite interesting stuff too that I have NO memory of writing, and must look into! lol.

Jo said...

hi Johanna
i have lots of nettles in the garden - want me to post you some? lol ... if you have sheep poo as a fertiliser you will have loads of nettles in no time flat :-) - off to do read more on wild foraging!

Johanna Knox said...

Hi Jo - wow really? Don't post me the nettle, just post me your sheep poo. lol.

Seriously - where do you get your fertiliser from? Do you buy it ready composted, or get it - er - raw¿