Sting nettle is more than edible, it's delicious (Urtica dioica)

Hives (urticaria) are named after the stinging nettle (Urtica). The plant has hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting formic acid and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. The plant has a long history of use as a herbal medicine and a food source. The taste is unparalleled, distinctly green and fiery.

Urtica dioica is a dioecious species, meaning it has male and female reproductive structures on separate plants.

Stinging Nettle Benefits: Wild food Stinging Nettles are Superfood! - YouTube

Food source

Urtica dioica has a flavor similar to spinach and cucumber when cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed setting stages the leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract.

In its peak season, nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable. The young leaves are edible and make a very good leaf vegetable. The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a herbal tea, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.

Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto and purée. Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern and Eastern Europe.


Nettles contain a lot of nitrogen and so are used as a compost activator or can be used to make a liquid fertiliser which although somewhat low in phosphate is useful in supplying magnesium, sulphur and iron.

Urtica dioica can be a troubling weed, and mowing can increase plant density.

Stinging nettle seeds are available from Amazon and Ebay.

Related reading:

Stinging Nettle Tasty Table Fare, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Stinging nettles leaf (Urtica dioica L.): Extraordinary vegetable medicine
Nettle: The Stinging Spring Edible - Real Food - MOTHER EARTH NEWS
Edible weeds: seizing the nettle - Telegraph
Stinging Nettle: Harvesting, Processing and Recipes | The Wolf College
Kitchen Window: Nettles Bring Spring To The Kitchen : NPR

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