The Stinging Nettle, or Urtica dioica, was called the Ouchie Plant at our house, when our kids were young and I had no time for weed research. At first look, it is verdant and healthy looking with leaves shaped like spearmint, and it covers the hills in thick waves that invite a touch. But just one touch of this plant- even if it’s a tiny bit of your ankle above your sock line, will give you BOY, a powerful punch of pain that lasts for hours.
Having been the victim of this weed’s stings many a time, I can still marvel at the intelligence of it structure and the intensity of its allure. The stinging nettle has a long history that goes back to ancient times. It has been an important source of food, fiber and herbal remedies. It is rich in protein and vitamins and once cooked, steamed or steeped, the stinging chemicals of the plant are neutralized. According to experts (not personal experience) stinging nettles, once de-stinged, make a tasty tea or a delicious side dish sautéed with garlic and olive oil. Nettle fibers have been woven into durable cloth, fishing nets and ropes for centuries. And although the nettle scan sting quite ferociously and cause allergic skin reactions when the plant is touched, some people use it to treat allergies and arthritis!
I for one, am still keeping my distance from this plant until I learn much more about it. I do know that it is ancient and alluring but I can’t see myself being enticed by the idea of putting a spoonful of green nettle leaves in my mouth, nor spreading it over an arthritic joint. I can barely get over the idea of harvesting it without getting a rash! Perhaps when I have studied the matter more deeply! (Or maybe when I have dared to do a teensie weensie taste test!) For now I will pay attention to this plant and heeds its warnings of “Beware”. I will stay away from the Ouchie Plant and pay it its deserved respect. I am attracted enough to it to keep my distance!
Please come back tomorrow for a new “Weed Image of the Day” and let me know which ones you like.
We and our weeds are so much more than what we first appear to be.