Nettle: Urtica dioica
Also called fire weed and burning weed.
Nettle is native to Northern Europe and Asia and North America, and some of Northern Africa. Nettle abounds in areas where the soil has been disturbed and can mark old homesteads, roads, and other areas of human activity. Nettle is also the food or exclusive food for the larvae of several butterflies and moths.
Historical Uses: Nettle was historically used for food, animal fodder, and for medical cures. It was also used in fabric through the early 1900′s.
Culinary Uses: Nettle tea can be used for curdling milk for cheese. Early nettle shoots don’t sting, and are used in salads. Cooking or soaking the older nettle leaves removes the stinging chemicals from the leaves, and then the leaves are eaten like any other green.
Medicinal Uses: Nettle was one of the initial “9 Powerful Herbs” of the 10th Century Anglo Saxons and was used as a counter poison and to reduce bleeding. It was and still is used in the medical practice of “Urtication” where the leaves are applied to the skin to cause irritation to ease the pain of rheumatism. It has also been used as a fever tonic, to reduce asthma, as an expectorant, for blood purification, and to stop nosebleeds. Nettle is also used for the treatment of colds, flu, eczema, gout, anemia, hemorrhoids, allergies, burns, bites, diarrhea, and various scalp issues. Nettles are high in vitamins C, and A in addition to iron, potassium, manganese, calcium and amino acids.
Magical Uses: (Fire, Male) Nettle is used for exorcism, protection, and healing. Stuff nettle in a poppet or sachet to remove and return curses. Add to incense to avert danger, additionally add yarrow to reduce fears. Nettle worn in an amulet keeps negativity away.
Other Uses: Nettle tea is used to brighten hair. Feed to chickens to increase egg nutrients. Nettle leaves used in fertilizer may increase the nitrogen and organic matter in the soil.
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, 1998, Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, Rodale Books.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, 1985, Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications.