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.
Great insight. Wood Nettle is very common here, and we've transplanted a bunch of it into our zone 3-4. I prefer the taste, and as you mentioned, it is much happier in shady spots than Stinging Nettle. Here it thrives in small openings of mature forest around Eastern Hemlock, Beech, White Oak, etc - normally at least 50% shade). It seems to have more of an affinity for water than it's relatives, and loves rich humus. The sting isn't quite as intense as Stinging Nettle (particularly the stuff you have down in SC - ouch!), but it will still let you know if you're out of line. I find it is as nice to you as you are to it, and usually forage from it without gloves.
Don't have any seeds left this year (aside from tinctured ones), but would be happy to trade or sell some rhizome cuttings.
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
posted 6 years ago
...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!