Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stinging Nettles that Don't Sting

Hot, steamy, overcast, and buggy--southern Vermont this week--other than the bugs, this weather is a welcome change from the long extended cold of the last several months. Yub Yub and I continue to collect sorrel, nettles, dandelion, and violets from our yard. Thag and I continue to lust for summer when we anticipate more time for foraging.

We seem to grow stinging nettles that don't sting! At first, I thought they were just low sting, but this week, I found a lovely new patch outside our house. Another patch of what seemed to be nettles grew in front of the ones I was certain were nettles. I have never been the plant ID person in our family. I tried. I found a few subtle differences, and I was fairly convinced that the "nettles" in front of the real nettles were not actually nettles. So, I touched them. No sting. I touched the real nettles. No sting. So much for a control.

When Thag got home from work, I asked for his assitance. I was right--the first plants were, the second plants weren't. I collected some of the real things to prepare a quiche. I really wanted to test their sting. I washed, snipped, and cut them with my bare hands. After about five full minutes of working with them, I had a slight tingle on the side of my left ring finger. Nothing else. I wasn't brave enough to try and eat them raw, but I wonder...

My father-in-law tells a story about his sister encountering stinging nettles and being swollen and in pain for a week. I know the degree of sting varies among location, but the lack of sting in our plants is kind of unbelieveable. But I am not complaining!


  1. I wonder if a person can acclimate to it? I remember it hurting like crazy when I was a kid, but nowadays it just feels like a half-numb/buzzy feeling. Or maybe you have some super evolved nettles out your way? Either way, less ouchie sounds like a good thing to me!

  2. Hi, is it possible to send a few seeds or seedlings my way? I'd of course pay for the shipping/etc. I'm studying to be an elementary teacher myself and got my bachelors in nutrition. Nettles are delicious and so healthy for you, and i'd realy like to start growing some in the yard. I also have a few botanist friends in my university and i'd love to see if they can confirm whether those plants truly are nettles. Its possible they're just nettles with some weird mutation that makes them less stingy

  3. check out on google "dead nettles" which don't sting and have a small white flower. I found my first ones last week in lincolnshire.

  4. I just discovered these in a patch at a friends house. I have harvested them and used them for anemia so I know that they work.
    Thanks for the post.

  5. what is the name of one species of non sting nettles please