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Using: The leaves must be cooked to destroy the stingers, but after that it is up to you. There seem to be cylindrical spikes, perfectly round, growing from a stout trunk. It can be helpful to put cuttings on a tarp, so nothing gets lost in your grass or soil. It can grow in a wide range of soil pH - from 5.0 to 8.0, so rarely that is a problem. Stinging nettle is moderately difficult to remove, mostly because of the plant’s toxic components. Herbaceous with stinging and non-stinging hairs and with simple or branched stems that can grow to about nine feet high. So knowing this, don't even bother eating the greens from them the first year they come up if you do plant by seed. Close up of Stinging Nettle stem with stinging hairs visible. The other, U. dioi… In the wild, you'll often see it in the damp soil along stream beds, as well as in the nutrient-rich soil of pastureland. (By: Randy A. Nonenmacher CC BY-SA 3.0). Just leave the cut off sections on the ground around them. Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, has leaves and stems with tiny, hollow, tipped hairs. without written permission from the author. And because of its ability to spread vigorously, it’s considered an invasive species in parts of North America. In fact, over the years, I have experimented with this and have found the older and bigger the clump of Stinging Nettles, the better the greens taste. In this way, the presence of large collections of nettles in the wild can sometimes indicate where settlements once existed. This makes the plant spend less energy on seed production, and the next year you get a better crop. I was surprised at the size of roots and trunks, big compared to leaf size. The soil should open, organically rich and loamy. The best thing you can do for it is dig in a layer of composted manure into the soil where you are going to seed or transplant to. It usually reaches a height of seven feet if one places it in damp and sunny soil. Even the new growth later in June just does not taste right, and can be stringy. There is one odd, counter intuitive aspect to these greens: the greens from new, or first year plants don't taste very good. Stinging nettles are plants that are commonly found in many areas of the world. After that, it should be fine on its own. Formerly all stinging nettles were thought to be introduced European nettles. You’ll recognize them by their upright and rigid stems. Synthetic herbicides are horrid for the health of your ecosystem and present a far greater risk to the health of your pets and children than stinging nettle does. When Matt and I walk along one of the nearby rivers, we always notice it growing abundantly as a “weed.” Stinging nettle will grow in dense clusters, and stalks can reach 5-8 feet at maturity. A distant mint relative, stinging nettles are equally invasive and need to be sternly managed. In the winter, the plant dies back down to the ground. U. dioica has a flavour similar to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. A: Sounds like stinging nettle. Originally from Europe and Asia, this plant has sharp hairs that break easily and can irritate or sting when the plant is touched; however it is a vitamin-rich food source as well as a remedy for various medical conditions. Once you get these plants established, there is no need to ever till the soil around them. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies. The plant prefers evenly moist, loamy soil with good drainage and a neutral soil pH. You’ll find them growing along rivers, streams, lakes, ditches, fencerows, and on the edges of cultivated farm fields. You also can use anti-itch creams as well as antihistamines and anti-inflammatories, as directed by your doctor. Stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. The medicinal properties of nettles were first harnessed in medieval Europe. Stinging nettle root for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) There are six common subspecies of stinging nettle, but only five have the stinging barbs. Because of this, whenever I have moved, I always hunt around for mature specimens to take home and plant. Don't worry about the stings unless you are one of the people allergic to bee stings. Soil & Site: From my experience, the taste varies with location and time of year. They can grow to 4 feet high in rich soil. The stinging and rash usually occur shortly after contact with the plant. Stinging hairs of nettles are hollow, pointed cells with a tip made of pure silica, which breaks leaving a jagged point when you brush against it. Far too late for gathering leaves for food, but if you find some like this make note of the location, as there will be lots for picking next spring. I have never tasted a cooked green – either wild or domestic – that I like better. are herbaceous, fast-growing plants native to the U.S. and Europe. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are able to survive in a wide range of conditions but are most common on ground that’s been left uncultivated for a long period.Plants can spread to form clumps, and seed is also distributed to infest new areas. Choose a sunny, warm location that is well drained and fertile. Nettles will grow just about anywhere, but they prefer rich soils and benefit from the waste humans produce. Don't over do it, but they can handle more alkaline (opposite of acidic) conditions than most plants and there is little that is more alkaline than wood ash. If you have experienced the pain of a Stinging Nettle plant, wisdom would tell you to avoid it. As mentioned above, the combination of wood ash (if you can get it) and manure makes them grow so thick and tall it is amazing. First year ones like this are not as good as the tops from mature rootstock. Plant cuttings in a prepared bed in full sun. Wood nettle, or stinging nettle, is a perennial nonwoody plant with a single, slightly zigzag stem and armed with stinging hairs. Finally, dig into the soil to remove any remaining roots you see, as these have the potential to sprout new plants. Anti-microbial. You should get a lot of seeds quickly. Stinging nettles can also be grown from root cuttings. By the way, each stinger is actually a natural hypodermic needle, and what it injects is anti-inflammatory (unless you are allergic to bee stings). The stingers that defend the plant. It bears small greenish flowers in the spring. Mowing or weed-whacking won’t do the trick — in fact, these methods will likely make the stinging nettle grow back more densely. There is variation in taste from different plants, so the first time you find one, take home some of the upper leaves, cook and see if they taste good. The pain lasted for 2 days. It is only early-in-the-season greens from established plants that are good to eat. If you do live in an area with acidic soils, such as with conifer trees all around or blueberries growing in the area, the solution is quite simple. Because they prefer nitrogen-rich, well-aerated soils, however, their favorite habitat is garden borders. There was immediate pain and stinging, followed by swelling and turning red. The leaves narrow at the tip and have serrated edges. The ads on the site help cover the cost of maintaining the site and keeping it available. These are basically biological hypodermic needles. But seriously, be prepared to get stung unless you have the skill of a surgeon no matter how you do it. You can also sow stinging nettle seed directly into the prepared garden space. Nettles prefers rich soil with good moisture content and especially favors the edges of streams or nutrient-dense pastures. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed-setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles … Once the leaves start to yellow in the fall, you can use the pair of hedge clippers to cut them back to about 10 cm (4 inches) high, leaving the stalks on the ground and cover with a layer of composted manure, compost and/or mulch. U. d. gracilis is the only perennial of the three. And that's why you often see nettles amongst the cow pats in your paddocks. It does well in low areas. Flower spikes that bear small greenish blooms in clusters appear in the spring or summer. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) illustration. Young Stinging Nettle growing in with pink Impatiens in flower. Moreover, while all parts of the nettle plant are edible, the leaves and stems can’t be eaten straight from the plant due to the barbs. In most cases, the symptoms are only mildly to moderately uncomfortable. Two similar subspecies of stinging nettles are commonly found growing in North America. But it's tolerant of many soil types and pH levels. If you want to grow some, these seed heads will provide hundreds of seeds. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) are one of more than 50 varieties of nettle plants worldwide. The way I like them best is a big plate of them lightly steamed and served with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. (By: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany). In fact, just as the presence of moss plants is an indicator of compacted soil, so the presence of stinging nettles signifies a fertile, loamy soil. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a fast-growing herbaceous perennial that gets tall in the summer and dies back down to the ground in the winter. These chemicals include acetylcholine, histamine, serotonin, leukotrienes, and moroidin. How do nettles sting? Nice looking plant as well - but stingy. Harvesting: As soon as they are about 30 cm (1 foot) tall, begin harvesting the top 7.5 cm (3 inches) of greens. This is best done in late fall - mid October to mid November. They include: David Beaulieu is a garden writer with nearly 20 years experience writing about landscaping and over 10 years experience working in nurseries. A very common plant, the stinging nettle can be found growing in gardens, hedgerows, fields, woodlands and many other habitats. This may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, It is perhaps most troublesome in loose, newly cultivated soil, especially where phosphate levels are high. Stinging nettle sends up its tall, erect stems each spring, which reach their full height by summer. However, you must be careful when working with stinging nettle because it has a toxic component. Maintenance: Make sure the soil stays damp in the spring, up to when you are finished harvesting. Dig around the plant’s base to loosen the roots, and then grasp the plant at its base to slide it out of the ground with the roots as intact as possible. Stinging nettle is considered a weed by many gardeners because of its ability to spread. Traditionally, nettle is used topically on wounds and it looks like science backs this … Stinging nettle is native to western North America, Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and introduced elsewhere. Stinging Nettles Three species of stinging nettles grow in the American southwest. Stinging nettle thrives in damp, nutrient rich soils and can be found anywhere from pastures, orchards, overgrown yards, roadsides, stream banks, ditches and even at the edges of fields or wooded lots in partial shade. Top leaves picked from the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) early in the season are my absolute favorite cooked green. It primarily grows in damp, fertile soil. Nettles grow well in nitrogen-rich soil, and bloom between June and September. It is still, as far as I can find as of this writing, a bit confusing to botanists. But it has since made its way around the world. Top leaves picked from the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) early in the season are my absolute favorite cooked green. Once you have the seeds, just spread them in the area you want the nettles right after getting home with them, and lightly rake into the soil and tamp down gently, and put on a thin leaf mulch. They can be used in soups, baked dishes, anything. I find it common for Stinging Nettles to come up in bagged potting soil – this is the case here. If you have a plant you need to get rid of, first moisten the soil around it to make it easier to slide out the roots. After the seedlings are up a little or after you transplant, mulch around the area well. I wish I could remember where I read this, but one writer said that if they did not sting they would have gone extinct long ago, as they are so good tasting, and so rich in nutrients, that animals would have grazed them to oblivion. It is found in both wet and dry grounds and shade and open prairie. And make sure you gather all the cuttings from your plant. Plants growing in the shade produce approximately 500 to 5,000 seeds per shoot and plants growing in full sunlight produce 10,000 to 20,000 seeds per shoot. The nettle sting contains irritants – mainly formic acid and histamines – that are injected into the surface layer of the skin cells. They really show their appreciation for good treatment. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without injury. And, of course, the leaves and stems are covered in those pesky stinging barbs, which look like fine hairs. The most plausible are: the cooling sensation of the sap evaporating from the affected skin can relieve some of the stinging sensation; Since nettles can grow up to 8 feet tall, going through a large patch of nettle can be a daunting prospect. If planted in a spot it likes, each clump of it will grow more stems each year. You can only take a few leaves on each one at a time, and unless you have a few, you won't get a lot. The season is very short, so you need a few plants to make up for that. Credit: dadalia / iStock.com. I did that, and do they ever like it. Description. The perennial stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial, herbaceous plant with creeping roots. The leaves and tops from the first year plants are not as good as from mature rootstock, so I'd pass on eating the leaves until the second year, and even those are not as good as from a plant that is many years old. It seems the dryer the spot in the spring they are growing in and/or the later in the season, the poorer the taste. For myself, I find I need at least six perennial clumps (individual plants) per person. For this reason, using the casting method to plant them is most efficient. It’s helpful to have a tarp nearby that you can put your plant clippings on, so they don’t get lost in your soil or grass. This plant will grow in full sun and partial shade. (By: kallerna GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2), (NOTE: If you are not interested in growing Stinging Nettles, but just finding the plant and using it, try going to the Nature's Restaurant Online site Stinging Nettle page.). The other thing you can do, is cut off the flower/seed heads as they form. I have a bad knee, and all season long, once per week I take a stalk from one of these and whack it against my knee on all sides until I've used up all the stingers. Stinging nettles die down to tough yellow roots in autumn, over-wintering to grow up again the following spring. Makes a big difference for days. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. This is typically true since stinging nettle can potentially … What this translates to, is that if you want to grow really tasty Stinging Nettle greens, you need to find or make a location that is damp in the spring where the soil is very rich. Stinging nettle is native to temperate parts of Europe, Asia, and western North Africa. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) range. They have herbal properties and grow in the same places every year… May/June is usually about the only time they are worth eating. However, some people and animals can have more serious allergic reactions, such as tightness in their chest or throat, that require prompt medical treatment. Both people and animals typically feel a stinging sensation—hence the plant’s common name—followed by local inflammation, a rash, and other various symptoms. Nettle is an herbaceous, quick-growing plant whose leaves and stems are covered with tiny, hollow, silica-tipped hairs which can cause irritation. The plant grows a large main stem and from that leaves grow in pairs opposite each other, making the plant seem somewhat four-sided. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 10. Many people opt to grow this plant for culinary and medicinal uses, as it’s high in several vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Stinging nettle is less likely to be found in the desert, elevations over 9,800 feet and in areas of salinity. (7) Stinging nettle produces abundant seed. Its preference for damp, fertile and disturbed ground makes it a good coloniser of places enriched by human activities, such as agriculture and development. More On The Sting-less Nettle Fen nettle (Urtica galeopsifolia) is found in a confusingly variable set of environments in England. Young plants were harvested by Native Americansand used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce. If you see the tiny flowers forming, you are too late for this year. The plant has been shown to cleanse the body of metabolic waste and increase production of red blood cells. Reactions also can occur if you eat the plant without properly preparing it. Due to its ability to form patches and crowd out native plants that grow in its environment, it’s considered an invasive species. Fibrous stems of mature plants can be used to make twine, fishing nets, snares and … If you're working with a stinging nettle plant in your garden, always wear protective clothing. This will smother any new plants that try to grow. Pick an adequate grow space with proper sunlight, soil, drainage, and moisture. Native in many places around the world, this herb can be found in north Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe. This keeps the plants shorter, which means they are less likely to topple over later in the year - they can get very tall if left. Plus, if you compost nettle plants, their high level of nutrients can be spread throughout your garden. Severe cases can be life-threatening. The stems sport medium green leaves that are around 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. The plant’s name is Latin in origin, with Uro meaning “I burn”. Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is a common plant that grows in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In the fall, cut back all but the top 6 to 10 inches of growth, dig it up with plenty of soil, put in a plastic bag or bucket, and transplant to where you want it. Stinging Nettle in seed in my garden. Is the growing of this plant compatible with Natural farming, Ecoagriculture or Eco friendly agriculture, Ecological farming, Sustainable agriculture, Agroforestry or Agro-sylviculture and Permaculture: This long lived perenial root system is ideal for Natural farming or no-till garden methods. Then, don your thick gardening gloves and protective clothing. (7) All Photographs Copyright © 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 David G. Mills except where noted.*. gracilis, is a North American native. What look like short hairs on stinging nettle’s leaves and stems are actually needle-like barbs that can inject you with a mix of chemicals, even if you simply brush up against them. Wild Foods Home Garden Logo Copyright © 2017 David G. Mills. If so, wait until that fall to adopt it and make it part of your home garden family. Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica) - Stinging Nettle is found growing all across North America and especially in moist, forested soil. It’s commonly seen in North America, especially the Pacific Northwest due to its love of moisture in the soil. If you are, don't grow these plants. Avoid touching your face as you work. Nettles grow 2 to 5 feet tall and have opposite leaves. Nettles are tough, tenacious colonisers. How to pick them: One way is to use gloves and a bag. Can grow to a height of approximately 4'. Young stinging nettle plants often have a purplish tinge to their foliage, and their leaf edges tend to be more rounded. The California Nettle or Stinging Nettle is a perennial plant that can grow anywhere from three to nine feet high, growing in stands connected by underground roots. It’s is native to most parts of the United States and Canada. They usually occur where the soil has been recently disturbed or cultivated and they're a good indicator that the soil is quite high in nutrients, especially phosphorus. Once you get it established in a spot, it just produces year after year. If you don't have children or pets in the yard, this is a great plant to have for greens in the spring. Nettle seeds are tiny. That's it – you will have some in the spring. (NOTE: If you are not interested in growing Stinging Nettles, but just finding the plant and using it, try going to the Nature's Restaurant Online site Stinging Nettle page.). The stingers face slightly upwards, so move upwards with your thumb and forefinger as you are about to grab the stem. There is a bare handed technique for picking them. Either compost them or seal them in a yard waste bag. Seeds: You can gather the tiny green/brown seeds from one in early fall just by tilting over a seed head on the plant into a jar or bag and rubbing it - there are no stingers on the ripe seed heads. All this organic material helps keep the soil damper in the spring, and you will notice each perennial clump will get bigger and bushier each year. If you do have children and/or pets and you still want to grow it, I strongly suggest growing it in a fenced in area. They are apt to grow near streams, along trails, and are especially common around old farm sites. The … They will turn brown when ready to harvest the seeds, usually mid September to mid October. Moreover, it does well in both full sun (at least six hours per day) and partial sun (three to six hours per day). Furthermore, to make sure new shoots don’t spring up, you can cover the site with a tarp or piece of cardboard for at least one full growing season. If you do it this way, you will get a decent harvest the next spring from each one you plant. Transplanting: The best way to get these is by transplanting. Text Copyright © 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 David G. Mills. In some parts of the US, stinging nettle is considered an invasive weed due to its ability to self-seed and spread through its root mass. Its leaves and stems have tiny stinging barbs, which contain chemicals that can cause pain and inflammation in people and animals when they come in contact with the skin. Many mild cases can be treated at home by cleaning the affected area with soap and water to wash away the chemicals and then using a piece of tape to try to pull any remaining barbs out of the skin. One, Urtica dioica ssp. After the harvesting is over, you can cut back the plant by taking off about one third of the stalks with a pair of hedge clippers. Where Nettles Grow: The plants take advantage of disturbed soils, including areas along roadsides. Stinging nettle (Urtica genus) is a European native plant that has become naturalized throughout the United States. It is a flowering plant, herbaceous perennial in nature. Stinging nettle reproduces vegetatively and by seed. However, I wanted the information to available to everyone free of charge, so I made this website. If you suspect stinging nettle toxicity, it’s always a good idea to consult a medical professional. There are a few theories as to why dock leaves appear to help nettle stings. Dock leaves and stinging nettles grow in similar habitats. How to Grow Stinging Nettle Greens. I have never tasted a cooked green – either wild or domestic – that I like better.

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