Ken Asmus, the founder of Oikos Tree Crops, found a patch of ‘Less Sting’ stinging nettles growing in a colony of stinging nettles in his forest. When visiting Michigan farm in 2022, we got to see these nettles thriving in dappled light as an understory plant. At Project Tree Collard we have grown and propagated regular stinging nettles for many years. They have been unpleasant to work with in the greenhouse due to the stinging nature of the plant. Ken Asmus has solved this issue for us by sharing this plant with the public. (Big Thanks to Ken!) It still has some stinging hairs on its stems and petioles (leaf stalk), the leaves are nearly free from them.
Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica, are native to the northern hemisphere. They are herbaceous, quick growing plants, spreading by roots to form a dense clump of ground cover. As they first pop up out of dormancy in the late winter or spring, they are less than an inch tall, very quickly growing up to eventually 3-5 feet tall when in flower and seed. One happy plant could grow eventually to a 10 foot+ wide patch in full sun, partial shade, or full shade. Nettles are hardy down to around negative 30° Fahrenheit, in USDA zones 4-9.
Nettles should be cut to the ground and composted in the fall. When choosing a spot for your new plant(s), try to find a spot with rich, moist conditions. This is a must have plant for homesteading or permaculture gardens. It is also a great butterfly insectary plant. While nettles are a great plant for beginner gardeners, but we cannot guarantee your success in your garden.
Please note, these nettles sting/irritate skin less than the typical stinging nettles, but if you touch the plant with bare skin, they may sting you a little. Also, most herbalists agree that nettles should not be consumed after the plants shoot upward to flower because at that point in the reproductive cycle, calcium carbonate begins to build up in the leaves which can cause damage to the kidneys and/or urinary tract.
Nevertheless, stinging nettles are a wonderful herb/food for the home garden. They can be used in tea as well or sautéed which will neutralize their sting. Can be great in soups, added to basil in pesto-making, and used as a spinach substitute in dishes like lasagne, pizza, and spanakopita! They also make a great addition to mashed potatoes or other vegetables, frittatas, omelets, stir-fries, or as a filling in vegetable dumplings, empanadas, pierogis, etc.
Nutritionally, it’s hard to beat stinging nettles as they are one of the most nutrient laden vegetables around. They contain significant quantities of potassium, protein, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C, along with loads of fiber, calcium, and Vitamin A. Also noteworthy, nettles contain all of the essential amino acids — like meat and eggs, and precious few other green vegetables.
Dried stinging nettle leaves are used for tea, or can be easily rehydrated for soups and other dishes. It is best to harvest and dry as much nettles as possible during the 2-4 month window before they begin to flower.
The fibers in nettle stalks can be spun into a soft and versatile yarn. Prior to the use of cotton in Europe, nettle was used with flax and hemp as a top natural fiber for making clothes. In some places, it is still used in cloth making. The cloth fiber has fire-resistant properties and has similar properties of hemp and flax of being cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Nettle leaves make a lovely colorfast natural dye that ranges in color depending on when the leaves are harvested (earliest spring leaves yield the greenest dye).
Nettles are famous as medicinal plants with many uses and nutritive value. We are not going to give any herbal medicine information or advise, except to say that if you are pregnant or nursing, or have any autoimmune or medical conditions, you should consult your medical providers before consuming nettles.
Please consider the weather in your region when ordering. We do our best to ensure a safe journey for your plants but cannot be responsible for plants that freeze or cook in your mailbox. If there is a defect with your order please take photos and contact us within 24 hours of arrival. We hope you enjoy your plant!
There are no reviews yet.