Urtication, hands become comfortably numb

25 May

The nettles have the knotweed surrounded, luckily the nettles are my primary reason for my foraging visit to this area which was a small farm back in the early 1950s.

Yes running approximately 15 feet out from this large patch of japanese knotweed is a healthy stand of stinging nettles which I’ve been gathering from each spring for around 30 years. The stinging nettle I will gather today should last me for a year, as I will dry them and use the majority in tea.

These 2 baskets took an hour to collect as I prefer to gather using scissors and bare hands accepting a few stings which I find somewhat pleasant and the gathering is more of a dance with them. The plants in my home garden came from seeds from these grounds where there are always a large number of water fowl, hawks, ravens and many other birds and creatures which move in close if you are relaxed and moving with gentleness as this is a very narrow valley which drops into a huge freshwater marsh and then a salt marsh before the waters of the Bay of Fundy.

I was too entraced with the stinging nettles to retrieve to my camera to take any bird photos but this little flying friend touched down long enough for a pic, this is a commonly found red admiral butterfly.

Back on the ridge, last look out into the marsh for today. If you are a stinging nettle tea drinker, you may enjoy trying  Christine’s these light footsteps nettle tea recipe which is very good cold and probably hot as well though I haven’t tried it that way yet. Check it out. ciao


16 Responses to “Urtication, hands become comfortably numb”

  1. mudpieville May 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    My favorite is stinging nettle with mint. Very refreshing chilled. Enjoy!

    • 1left May 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      odd thing, I have both these plants growing together in my indicator garden and have never tried them together, thanks mudpieville sounds like a pleasant summer drink!

  2. mobius faith May 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Really cool post. Have a great weekend. Didn’t know stinging nettles could be used in tea. I always learn something new here.

    • 1left May 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

      Thanks mobius, have a great one.

  3. Hanuman Dass May 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    That thistle you ID’ed for me was the purple variety! Beautiful blooms. Excellent work!

    Another great post!

    • 1left May 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      Thanks HD, yes I saw the recent photo in your post, they are striking plants indeed, our Canadian bull thistle look kind of tame next to the spines of those southern beauties. ciao

  4. Jeremy DuCheny May 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Nettle is one of my favorite plants. There are so many uses for it–food, medicine, compost expediter. It’s great that you have been going to the same spot for 30 yrs to pick your nettle. One thing that I really enjoy about wild crafting foods is this tradition of watching and waiting for the next bounty to appear. 🙂 We have made so many traditions here in our place, as it looks you have in yours. Thanks for the excellent post once again, 1left.

    • 1left May 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Thanks Jeremy, nettle does have a storied history including making a type of linen cloth, paper and rope. I suspect prehistoric folks held it even more precious in their daily lives. It is awesome how these gifts just keep appearing naturally in the joyous play of things.

  5. Christine @ these light footsteps May 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Urtication…hehe…I like that word!

    • 1left May 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

      It does have a certain ring or sting to it, I read nettles has been used for a few thousand years as a folk remedy for arthritis by applying the plants to the affected areas. Today many folks still grow them as a house plant for this purpose along with the secondary treatment jewelweed a few hours later or you could use one of the other plants that relieve nettle sting as well. If I had arthritis, Urtication would be the first treatment I would try, as I’m similar to you Christine, I will always go with the local things first, most enviroments provide the essentials naturally.

  6. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words May 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks once again 1Left..
    I will have to look more ito nettles..
    I knew you could make tea…but
    they seem to bite here in Texas..so I usually
    admire their beauty from a looong ways away…
    but…I will now look more carefully …
    Thank you …
    Take Care…

    • 1left May 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks maryrose, Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) maybe the most healthy plant for the majority of people to become familiar with, do a little research on this one.
      The nettle in your area of Texas though are probably Spurge nettle ( Cnidoscolus stimulosus) which have edible tubers but the above ground parts are unsafe for consumption and supposedly are very nasty stingers as well. ciao for now

  7. myrobalanclinic June 17, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Great post – thank you. I use a lot of nettles in my herbal clinic and gather them every year as you do with scissors. I do wear light cotton gloves to keep the stinging down to a reasonable level as I need to have sensitive finger tips for pulse diagnosis!

    I use the nettle leaf in capsules, teas and tinctures, as well as the nettle seed in ointment which is proving to be very effective to ease arthritis in my patients. The ointment is a more ‘acceptable’ way for them to enjoy the benefits of nettle instead of traditional urtification! I must admit though that when working on my herb field I tend to get stung all up my arms and I do quite like the sensation – it’s as though you can feel that it is doing you good 🙂


    • 1left June 17, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Yes Lucy, nettles energy even when dried gives a certain pleasant lively tingle when handled, I enjoy gently rolling the dried leaves between my hands prior to preparing my tea. The nettle seed ointment sounds interesting, I have read the seeds have powerful uplifting qualities. Nettle seed sprouts also seems like a potential salad ingredient, I must do a little research on the seeds. ciao

  8. The Rowdy Chowgirl June 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    I get nettles at the farmers market, but I’ve never foraged them myself. I’m too nervous about the sting!

    • 1left June 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      If you can find a patch at the edge of a field, nettles can be easy pickin’ with a pair of scissors and gloves. They can be tricky and too spread out in other areas like river floodplains which I tend to get stung quite unexpectedly while gathering other goodies. If your like me you’ll find a nice patch someday while looking for something else near an old field or small abandon farm. A large nettle patch can thrive for well over 50 years, so once you find one your good to go, plus I’ve transplanted roots and sprinkled seeds from my patch above which have grown quite well in different soil types and seem to be beneficial to some of the wild plants growing near them. Thanks for stopping by TRC

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