I’ve been back from the wilderness for a couple of weeks now and I haven’t posted much. I’d like to share with you some of the concepts and ideas that I find memorable or useful in my everyday life.

One of the coolest things on the trip were “wild edibles” walks. We learned a lot of cool stuff regarding plants that we can find all around us. Here is a brief look into my relationship with stinging nettle.

While on our first “wild edibles” walks, we were introduced to nettle, a wild, edible plant that grows pretty much around the world. We picked off the small leaves, folded it and munched on what tasted like fresh string beans, picked right from Mom’s garden. On our second “wild edibles” walk we came across a different type of nettle plant–stinging nettle.

Stinging nettle is a beauty of  a green plant, but it packs a vicious bite. On the underside of each leaf are tiny hairs that when touched are transformed into tiny hypodermic style needles. These tiny tips inject equally tiny amounts of chemicals including histamine, serotonin and formic acid. Skeptical to this claim of stinging I had to test it out for myself. I grabbed on to a few leaves and waited for this so called sting.

Well, i didn’t have to wait long. Immediately I felt like I was being bitten by red ants. (Yes, I have been bitten by red ants. I unknowingly stepped on top of a fire ant hill at my sister’s graduation from the Air Force –they had quite a meal that afternoon.)

We had to pick a basketful of these leaves for the dinner we would be preparing. I did not volunteer for that. I volunteered for cutting up the leaves to sautee in a soapstone dish later that evening. I was expecting that once the leaves were plucked from its nutritional stem all stinging would cease. Wrong. In a matter of less then ten minutes, I had numbed three fingers on my right hand from nail to knuckle. The sensation stayed for more than a couple of days. It has the potential to remain in a human’s system for a week. The tiny stings are not life threatening, but give the feeling of unremovable splinters.

They saute up nice though, resembling spinach, but carry the taste of whatever you use to saute them in.

stinging nettle

-Sarah Haase

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