So, there are already more than a couple of threads concerning cultivation and use of Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica). I have read that there is a subspecies endimic across much of North America, now mixed together with a different, European subspecies now widely naturalized. Excellent information. Thanks. And thank you Paul, in particular, for the excellent videos on the topic.
There is also, however, another species called Canadian WoodNettle, or just Wood Nettle (Laportaea canadensis) that is native to the eastern half of the continent. This is the species in which I am more interested, yet it seems to have been almost completely overlooked on Permies until now. As I understand it, WN has several advantages for a homesteader's use. In addition to being a native species (at least where I live), it grows slightly shorter than SN, which I would think should make it easier to blend into certain polycultures with taller plants. I have also read that it is more shade tolerant than SN, again I would think making it a more attractive guild member. People have said that it has better taste than SN, though this is probably subjective. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for home use, WN is supposed to have a less-painful sting!
All of these observations are limited to "things I have read," since I have no personal experience with WN. Does anyone have any other knowledge, including personal experiences, to share?
And here is the big question: does anyone know where I could get my hands on some WN?! Seed, transplants, whatever...? Internet searches have so far yielded me nothing, and none of my favorite native plants suppliers seem to carry it. Any help would be greatly appreciated! I would also be willing to purchase or trade for any seeds or transplants that anyone here on Permies might be able to offer from their own private stock.
@Tyler - Indeed! Too bad that they don't sell outside of Ontario. But since they're also a wholesaler, I will call them one of these days and see if I can find out whom they supply. Will post back if that leads to any results.
My family owns some property in Rabun Gap, GA. There is a patch of some kind of nettle growing next to a stream. This may be Wood Nettle. I have attached a photo. Let me know if you want me to dig some up and bring them as far as Seneca, SC where I work.
@Michael - Thank you so much for the offer. I am not nearly experienced enough to know if that is Urtica or Laportea from the photo you provided, although it's a good quality photo. BTW, does anyone know how to quickly ID the two species by sight?
Actually, I am good for right now, though I might well take you up on your offer some time in the future. I have been meaning to post this for a few days now: this last week I actually found a local, commercial source for Laportea candensis! The info is below. Its a tiny operation growing and selling herbacious species in the mountains just north of Asheville, NC, including many exotic Asian medicinals. Good people and a very beautiful, though rather remote and inaccessible, place they've got there. They were quite happy to dig me up some semi-wild plants at very reasonable prices, and I scored several rare natives: in addition to a whole bunch of Wood Nettes and seed, some Giant Solomon's Seal and seed, some Ostrich Ferns, and a whole bunch of Ramps and seed. Like I said, picking up freshly dug bare root transplants in person was very economical for me; you might find prices and availability vary depending on what you want, when you want it, and how far they have to ship it. But I highly recommend that anyone reading checks them out!
Okay, please forgive the accidental emoticon. That phone number again would be 828.675.5664.
BTW, I must say that I am very excited about my new WN! I can't say for sure, and I will post back once they are transplanted and growing healthily, but my experiences packing up the freshly dug plants into my car were that I could hardly make them sting me no matter how hard I tried! I recall encountering some Stinging Nettles in England once as a young child, and I still remember how easily those will sting you and how much they hurt!!!
The photo that I posted previously is wood nettle. I have discovered that, while the two varieties do resemble one another, they can be easily distinguished. Wood nettle has an alternate leaf arrangement but stinging nettle leaves are borne oppositely. I have posted some more info and photos (raw and cooked) on my blog - http://foothillsforager.blogspot.com/
I've been looking for wood nettles for a year or so and likewise haven't been able to find any. Are any of you interested in passing some along to another eager permie? I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area on about 3/4 acre hillside and am trying to put together various fodder plants for ducks and geese to get through the 6 month/year dry season when the pasture dries up and the mud crazes. (and for me to eat as well). Don't want to take a chance on feeding stinging nettles to the birds. I'd be happy to pay or trade something for the extra trouble--plants, cuttings or seeds of perrennial vegetables, etc.. Thanks, JC. You can answer here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
@Jeff - I would be happy to ship you some WN. I'm sure we could trade for some seeds or something. But the problems are: 1) will they survive the postal journey from SC all the way to San Fran? And more importantly: 2) I don't have any extras to ship! My own transplants from two moths ago are still just getting themselves established. WN will, so I am told, spread by roots to form clumps. Once mine do, I would be happy to dig up a few and pop them in the mail, if you think they'd survive. But that could easily be another season or two; I have no way to predict how long, actually, since this is the first I've ever grown them. For the time being, I have planted only one in each spot where I want a clump to eventually be. If you are in a hurry, I'd advise you start from seed. Check the info on my source, which I posted above. They could ship you some seeds, I'm sure.
~ Matthew N., southern transplant
Blazing trails in disabled homesteading
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