The Stinging Nettle Plant
Information About the Stinging Nettle Plant
The Stinging Nettle is Not only a great Survival food and wild edible plant, but is also a painful plant if you walk into it and don’t see it. I was not sure whether to put this in the “plants to avoid” category or the “Edible Plants” category. Since it is such a great food source, and should also be avoided, I have decided to include it in both sections and cover everything here. Personally I really enjoy seeing the stinging nettle in the wild. It is very easy to identify and is so full of vitamins and minerals that it gives me joy to know that I could eat it if I felt like it. If you have any doubt about the identity of the plant there is a really easy way to find out if you are indeed looking at a stinging nettle, sting yourself 🙂
Eating the Stinging Nettle as a Survival Food (Wild Edible Plant)
This plant is high in vitamins and has been a great source of food and medicine for many generations.
Cooking these plants or soaking for a period of time in water will kill the stinging chemical in the plants and allow you to safely consume them. They taste similar to spinach and were a main food for native Americans because of their abundance in most areas of the US. It is possible to handle the stinging nettle without getting stung. The stinging hairs run in a vertical direction, so by grabbing the plant with this in mind you can mostly avoid the painful sensation that this plant is known for.
You can use these in salad, or treat them just like you would with spinach by adding them to casseroles and into nearly any foods where spinach would be used. They will even look just like spinach after being cooked or steamed.
Make a Stinging Nettle Tea
Steep the nettle leaves in a concentrated sugar solution to extract the flavor and nutrients of the leaves. Then you should add a source of citric acid (orange or lemon juice) to preserve your drink and add a nice tart flavor.
You have been Stung by the Stinging Nettle plant!
The sting of this plant is very uncomfortable and will cause great pain to the innocent hiker or backpacker who walks into it. In order to alleviate the pain from a sting you should immerse your affected body part in water and the pain will fairly quickly subside. In an effort to give you the most in depth and first hand experience, I have just intentionally inflicted myself with serious pain from a group of stinging nettles on the side of my house. The very same nettles that are shown in the pictures above. Mostly I just wanted to show you a picture of the rash that the nettles will cause. Since my hands are already a huge rash from cow parsnip i had to “sting” myself in one of the most painful areas of the body, on the underside of my forearm and inside of my bicep. I wanted to give you a clear example of what the rash looks like.
There are many known remedies to the sting of the nettle such as: Mud, saliva, calamine lotion and even baking soda. But I find that the cold water rinse mentioned above is the easiest method.
Personally I just ignored the sting and allowed it to run its course so I could get the best possible rash images. It only stung for about 2 minutes. I still have large blister like inflammations on my arm, but there is no pain or discomfort whatsoever.
The stinging nettle is a plant you are likely to encounter on many hikes that are near water and moist areas. They seem to prefer shade and grow in groups. You should learn to recognize this plant, because it could be a valuable food source if you ever need one. The Stinging Nettle is yet another example of a very versatile wild edible plant. Just be careful or you could end up suffering a little bit of pain if you unknowingly walk into them.