Our property has an abundance of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). If you’re not familiar with this powerhouse plant, Nettle is known to increase energy and nourish the skin, hair, nails, adrenal and lymphatic systems, digestive tract, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, and prostate. Those suffering from arthritis and gout may find relief, as it’s believed Nettles alkalizes and releases uric acid from the joints.
All parts of the plant, seeds, stems, leaves and roots, can be used.
Beware – it’s leaves and stems have small hair like stingers that cause mild to moderate skin irritations ranging from annoyance to bee sting quality – it’s definitely a plant you won’t forget meeting!
Thankfully, Nettles nourishing benefits greatly outweigh their sting!
While preparing for this post and gathering my Nettle Seeds, I learned firsthand how those aforementioned stingers sometimes decide to break off in your skin, prolonging the irritation. Sticky tape, such as moving tape or duct tape can be used to remove the stingers and an applied poultice of plantain, dock or jewelweed can be soothing.
Be sure to dress appropriately. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes, and don’t forget your gloves. Shorts, t-shirt, and light canvas shoes are great for many wildcraft/foraging adventures, just not when gathering Stinging Nettles…I know…from personal experience… Ouch!
When I realized Stinging Nettle had blessed our homestead in such abundance, it was already too late in the season to harvest the leaves as food or medicine. The leaves should be harvested before it flowers, as oxalic acid begins building in the leaves and can irritate the kidneys.
Now, late summer, Nettle Seeds are abundant and ripe for harvest and the seeds have many of the same qualities of the leaf, maybe even more so.
You’ll know when the seeds are ready to harvest when they are full and green like those in the picture above.
Some say eating them at this stage, fresh from the plant, has a stimulant effect similar to that of an Amphetamine, however, eating them once dried has an energetic quality without being stimulating. Who couldn’t benefit from more energy? I know I sure could!
Small doses of dried seeds are recommended: no more than a 1/4 of a teaspoon, gradually increasing to 1 teaspoon, daily. It’s also recommended only ingesting the seeds in the morning, as any later than early afternoon could interfere with sleep.
Add them to salads, smoothies, soups or even make your own “seasoning” by combining the seeds with salt, pepper and other herbs to your taste. I’ve been using mine to pepper homemade hummus – yum!
To harvest, I found cutting the stem just below the last seed cluster works well, and allows enough of the plant to be left behind to make cordage later.
The first batch, before dehydrating, were hung out on a line for a couple of days to allow any insects stowaways to escape.
With the second batch, I didn’t notice much insect activity, so I removed the seed clusters and discarded the stems before placing the clusters in the dehydrator.
I dehydrated the seeds on the lowest setting, overnight.
In the morning, I rubbed the seeds through a sieve, releasing the seeds and leaving thin stems behind. I then filled a clean, dry jar with the seeds, covered with an airtight lid and stored in a cool, dry place.
This much plant material only filled up a pint jar half way with dried seeds, so I’ll definitely be forging more before the season is over.
Remember anytime that you’re foraging or wildcrafting, be sure to leave enough time for the plant to regenerate. Some plants require their seeds in order to do so.
Have you harvested Stinging Nettle Seeds? What is your favorite way to use them? Please leave a comment below.
If you’re interested in purchasing Nettle Seeds to create your own seasonings to cook with, we have five packages available. Please send me a message or check out our Facebook page or check back for information on the opening of our Etsy store!
(Disclaimer: I am not a Physician nor am I Certified Herbalist. The information provided on this site has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent conditions, illnesses or diseases, it is purely anecdotal and stem from my own personal fascination with the natural world around me. I use the following for my research: Peterson Field Guides – Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, books and videos by Rosemary Gladstar and Susun Weed, as well as various internet posts. I encourage you to do your own research. Before trying any herbal remedy, consult a physician or certified medical professional to make sure it is safe for you to use.)
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