Wednesday, 11 May 2022

WW: Purple nettles

(I found the patch of nettles [Urtica dioica] in the upper photo beside a bike path last week. Notice their purple stems and leaf veins. Usually nettles are entirely green, like the ones in the photo below that one, which was taken about five feet away.

This kind of variation isn't unusual in some plants, such as Digitalis, but I've never seen the like in nettles. Unfortunately they're past eating; I suspect they also taste different.)

Appearing also on My Corner of the World.


  1. Yes, I agree. We drink that tea!

  2. How do you get around the prickly thing when eating? Also, how do you know they're past eating - a curious city slicker...Emille

  3. Hi Emille!

    Cooking eliminates the sting, so there's that solved. (Don't try to make a salad out of them.)

    As for the harvest window, they're edible while new and tender; generally up to about 8 inches. When they've acquired several levels of leaves and have become stringy, they're technically toxic, but the immediate issue is that they're unpalatable -- like chewing twine.

    So as you can see in the photos, these are too high. They're at least a week past useful.

    Thanks for the question!

  4. Past eating already? I need to find my copy of your book so that I can determine that. I have a convenient patch growing near my front door.

  5. Yeah, their window is only a few weeks in early spring -- maybe a month, though I suspect you can move up in elevation and spin the season out longer. (I've done that with other edible plants.) But the roots, the basis of the famous soup, are edible year-round.

  6. That's interesting, I thought at first that it is the molokhia plant - local leafy vegetable we have here in the Philippines. Turns out the molokhia is a cross between mint and nettle leaves. Yet both of them have superb health benefits!

  7. Interesting. I see by the Internet that molokhia is also a fibrous plant, used for twine and textiles. Very similar to nettles.

    Thanks for the comment!