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What was I thinking? 

I planted stinging nettle seeds!

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a medicinal herb. I wanted to grow it because it reaches a size of about six feet at maturity, and it grows in partial shade. (I have a lot of partial shade.) For an annual, that fills in spaces left by new perennials that are still establishing. Just one tiny problem. The stinging part is real. It’s known for its stinging hairs that can cause skin irritation upon contact. You cannot handle the fresh leaves of stinging nettle without gloves, even when they are tiny seedlings. Ask me how I know. Despite its infamous sting, stinging nettle is a highly valued medicinal and culinary herb that has been used for centuries.

Stinging nettle has been used for a variety of purposes. It is a natural diuretic and has been used to treat urinary tract infections and kidney stones. It is also believed to help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body. In addition to its medicinal properties, stinging nettle is also used in cooking as a leafy green vegetable or an ingredient in soups and stews.

When handling stinging nettle, it’s important to wear gloves and protective clothing to avoid skin irritation. The stinging hairs on the leaves and stems can cause itching and a rash. I added red  “Do not touch leaves!” tags to my plants as a reminder. The good news is that cooking or drying the leaves neutralizes the sting, making them safe to handle and consume. Will I try to consume them? Stay tuned!

Now I need to find an out-of-the-way spot in the garden!

Photo by Paul Morley on Unsplash