Next up on the list of native plants with medicinal and/or culinary benefits is Stinging Nettle!
First of all, this little plant has a huge attitude problem! I have had more than a couple incidences with it and let me tell you, it has quite a sting! That will turn many people away from ever learning how amazing this plant actually is though.
The most important thing to know is that despite its nasty sting, this is an extremely nutritious plant. It packs in more nutrients & minerals than spinach and grows all over San Diego naturally! It also purifies & nourishes blood, helps adrenal and kidney function, nourishes core energy while helping one deal with daily stress, strengthens pregnant women and increases milk supply for nursing mothers and helps moderate allergy response. After a few simple steps, you can easily add the leaves to your meals or use as a tea. Here are the proper steps from picking to consuming:
* It is best to harvest in March before it has flowered. If it has flowered it’s already too late. After flowering they begin forming silica crystals which can upset your stomach and cause kidney problems.
* Wear jeans (not shorts whatever you do) & bring gloves, shears & a bag or basket for harvesting. Just cut the leaves and put them in your bag.
* When you get home soak the leaves in warm water for about 10 minutes. Just through soaking alone, you will help to remove most of the sting. The water will turn a rust-color, which is completely normal.
* Cooking will completely remove all the sting. It’s ideal to steam the nettle so fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, put the leaves in the steaming pot and steam for 5-10 minutes. It should look soggy, like cooked spinach when it’s ready.
* It is recommended to use this plant as a replacement ingredient for kale or spinach. Think stews & soups, hot sandwiches, omelets, pasta, etc. Enjoy!
Here's a shot of it under a microscope!