Stinging Nettle: Is it a Hazard or an Ally?

Stinging nettle, or urtica dioica, is another plant with amazing benefits in the spring. 

Many folks know it for its tingly sting when you’ve brushed up against a patch.  But drying or cooking this amazing herb in any way removes the sting and allows the rich nutrients and medicine to be accessed.

It is one of my favorite allies.

Check out the video below to hear more:


Let’s see if we can find some nettle to harvest for a meal!

Put on some gloves and a long-sleeved shirt and head outside with scissors, a basket and your nature journal.

Do you know any spots with a large amount of nettle?

Remember the guidelines we’ve talked about for harvesting:

1. Always 100% positively identify the plant
2. Choose an area free of chemicals and away from the road
3. Harvest from an area with an abundance of the plant
4. Always ask permission, from any landowner and the plant itself
5. Make an offering if possible, a little water or something else to give thanks

When you’ve found a patch, take a few minutes to draw a detailed picture of the nettle plant.  Pay special attention to those tiny hairs under the leaves and on the stem that cause the sting!

Then, use your scissors to either cut the entire stalk for drying for tea, or just the top 6 inches or so for the tender greens for cooking.

Remember it cooks down just like spinach, so harvest the amount you will need for your meal.


Nettle can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach or other cooked greens.  Here’s a simple recipe to try them on their own:

Supplies needed:
2-4 cups fresh stinging nettle tops
2-4 cloves garlic
Butter or your favorite cooking oil
Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste

1. Use gloves and lightly rinse the nettle
2. Cut off leaves and discard the stems
3. Mince the garlic, and lightly sauté in the heated oil for about 2 minutes
4. Add the nettle leaves and cook on medium high for 3-5 minutes, until fully wilted
5. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste



(Choose one each day and either answer together around the meal table, or write about it in your family nature journal)

1. What do you most appreciate about the hazard and medicine of nettle?
2. What surprised you most when working with nettle?
3. Why do you think nettle is such an important medicine?
4. What lessons about life can we learn about the way nettle protects itself?
5. What other ways could you use nettle in your life?
6. Are there any other “hazards” in your yard that your family could investigate possible uses?
7. What changes have you noticed in nature this week?


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