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Herb Profile: Nettles

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Nettles

Nettles

© A.Jeanroy

Overview:

Nettles are a tonic herb that is easily found in disturbed areas, such as abandoned farmsteads and country roads. It makes an unusual but important addition to your herb garden.Nettles are also an early spring herb, making them one of the first fresh herbs to eat of the year.

Latin Name:

Urtica dioica

Common Name:

Nettle, Stinging Nettles

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Zone 5-9

Exposure:

Full sun to shade, as long as there is sufficient moisture, nettle can grow virtually anywhere.

Harvest:

Cut the aerial parts anytime. Wearing gloves is recommended when harvesting nettle, as the tiny hairs produce a temporary but irritating sting if brushed against. Dried or cooked nettles do not have this effect. Companion plant nettle with Fennel for improved flavor of both herbs.

Uses:

 

Nettles are one of the most important herbs to get to know. They fall under the tonic herbs heading. This means that they are very nourishing and offer a gentle, nutritional boost to your diet. Nettle is often overlooked, because of the irritating effect that it has on bare skin. Some people actually use this irritating effect to their benefit, and rub nettles onto arthritic joints. The warmth that lasts after the stinging subsides is said to temporarily relieve pain.

Nettles are used as a blood purifier. they are high in iron and potassium. The dried leaves, powdered, make an effective blood stopping wound powder. The juice is applied to the scalp as a hair growth stimulator.

One of the best ways to use nettles is to add them to soups and stews, where they impart a rich, earthy taste. Nettle is also a great addition to your herb tea mixes. Add the leaves to any tea blends that need a little more body. For a stronger herbal tonic, try a nettle infusion, steeped overnight.

With a little patience and care, you can add a tasty herbal ally to your herb gardens.

 

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