Native to Europe, northern Asia and Northwestern Africa, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) has a very long history of medicinal use. The fibers were a common source of material for crafting textiles. Tiny ‘hypodermic needles’ on the leaves (invisible to the eye) inject histamine chemicals which create a stinging sensation. Live nettle can be very painful to touch, even goats avoid it when it is fresh. Drying, blanching or boiling leaves removes the ‘stingers’ after which the many benefits of the medicinal qualities and nutrition can be enjoyed in soups, salad, pesto and tea. Nettle is said to help against muscle pain, arthritis, anemia, eczema, blood sugar levels, urinary tract infection, prostrate problems and insect bites. Native peoples would sometimes make little whisks of green leaves and strike themselves where arthritis was afflicting them. In exchange for a stinging sensation they experienced hours of relief from arthritis pain. Scientists are studying Stinging Nettle to try and isolate the compounds which grant relief from arthritis.
Plant in full sun and give regular water. Isolate from nearby plants as Nettle spreads and can be difficult to harvest and handle when too close to other herbs. Expect 2-4 feet height and width and either little purplish male flowers or chalky yellow female flowers, both male and female plants contain beneficial nutrition.
4″ pot $5.99 (bring your gloves, a little zap from these can be unpleasant)