All afternoon these lovers lay
Until the sun turned pale from warm,
Until sweet wind changed tune, blew harm :
Cruel nettles stung her angles raw.
Rueful, most vexed, that tender skin
Should accept so fell a wound,
He stamped and cracked stalks to the ground
Which had caused his dear girl pain.
Now he goes from his rightful road
And, under honor, will depart;
While she stands burning, venom-girt,
In wait for sharper smart to fade.
- Sylvia Plath
Nettle’s notorious sting is eerily similar to the sharp pain of a whip lash. Stinging Nettle’s latin name - Urtica Dioca - has the same root as hives, whose medical name - Urticaria - both stem from the latin word urere, meaning "to burn.” Hot, right?
Like many of us, nettle likes sunbathing in spring and preening next to bodies of water, and can be found tramping about in spring to late summer near streams, meadows, and ditches.
Not one to back down from a bar fight, the volatile Nettle has prickly hairs upon its leaves that contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause stinging, itching, and redness. If you’ve ever rubbed against one of these on a dank river path, you know it.
It is also the Edward Scissorhands of medicinal plants: its touch will vex you with a thousand cuts, but its spirit is gentle, compassionate, magical, and misunderstood.
Nettles contain more protein than any other native plant, and their burgeoning, verdigris leaves ensconce epic amounts of iron, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, and chlorophyll. Like a multivitamin built for a Botanarchist, Nettles also contain calcium, magnesium, silicon, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and nearly all of the B vitamins needed for full fluorescence.