Nettle is our official pick for March Herb of the Month – also our Weed of the Week for the last week of March.  Nettle is one of the first plants to come up in spring and for good reason…Nettle is a blood purifier, also called a spring tonic or liver cleanser.579236_544923902218582_914371737_n

Nettle is often a hated plant because of it’s well-known ability to sting the bare legs of any passerby.  There’s an old saying “Nettle in – Dock out” which is a reference to the common “cure” for Nettle sting – rub the juice of Burdock leaves on it.  I sure wish I would have known that as a child!

That sting is actually one of the medicinal qualities of Nettle.  The leaves are purposefully applied to the skin to decrease the pain of arthritis.

Nettle is chocked full of nutrition due to it’s high mineral content and Vitamin C, which helps absorb the minerals.  They can be cooked  fresh like spinach or made into a delicious soup (recipe below.)  Once cooked, juiced or dried they lose their sting.

Nettle can also help allergy sufferers when started early in the spring as a preventative to the symptoms.  It is noted that drinking Nettle tea daily at the first of spring reduces or alleviates the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Adding honey boosts the effects!

To add a boost of vitamins and minerals, Nettles are the go-to herb, for people and for plants.  Soak Nettle in rainwater for about 4 weeks then dilute it –  1 part “tea” to 10 parts water – use as a liquid fertilizer for the roots of your plants.

As if all those uses weren’t enough, Nettle is also used as a beauty treatment to strengthen hair.  A rinse made from the tops of Nettle plants going to seed is applied to hair to darken it, condition it and treat dandruff.

If you have a chance to get some fresh Nettle this spring try this recipe for Nettle Soup we found in The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Niall Edworthy:

Melt a pat of butter then add a large chopped onion and 8 handfuls of freshly washed Nettle.  Cook until tender and add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Cook a few more minutes, stirring constantly.  Add a quart of vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Either pour into a processor or use hand processor in the pot for a few seconds to blend very well.   Reheat, season well and serve.   Alternately, cream can be added before reheating.