Foraging for nettles is a sure sign of spring in our home. I bring nettles home by the bagful and use them for tea, or grind them into pesto, or use them instead of spinach in a feta quiche.
This year’s variation was using wood nettles instead of the regular nettles. Wood nettle, or Canada nettle, is a perennial that grows in moist, rich woodland soils. It belongs to the same nettle family as its more familiar cousin, the common stinging nettle, but it has fewer stinging hairs and larger, rounder leaves. (It does still sting, though. Wear gloves.)
My little assistant slept in the stroller while I harvested a couple of bagfuls at my favorite spot in this whole town (apart from our home): the Riverwalk, a long, shaded series of walking and jogging paths along the Congaree river. My friend Matt took us here for an edible wild plant walk a year ago, and ever since we’ve come back regularly, enjoying finding something to snack on from nature’s grocery. For free, naturally.
Nutritionally, the wood nettle is just as amazing as the stinging nettle: it packs in more protein than any other leafy green, is also high in vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of iron, calcium, and a host of other minerals. Add to this the fact that it also has medicinal properties, and can be used as a dye and fiber plant… and I think you’ll agree with me that we’ve got here a true Plant for the Future.
While we’re on the subject of nettles…