Most of us have probably made a painful acquaintance with the stinging nettle at an early age so a botanical introduction would be superfluous. Yet, there is much more to this bellicose herb than meets the pain receptors. The humble stinging nettle is indeed one of THE most useful plants in the garden. Every part of this plant is useful in various ways -yes, even the seeds!
Stinging nettle flowers are tiny and very inconspicuous but the seeds are easy to identify. They form dangling catkin-like strands packed with little 'nuts'. However, they are not so easy to collect! The stinging hairs on the surrounding leaves provide a very effective defence.
Lightly toasted and mixed with salt the nutty seeds make a tasty 'Gamasio' that can be sprinkled on foods for added nutrition and flavour.
Nettle seeds are sometimes touted as a ‘superfood’' but there is little evidence to support that claim. However, according to some studies, they are both, antioxidant and antimicrobial. The seeds may prove useful as an anti-inflammatory agent to soothe the irritation of colitis. In folk-medicine, nettle seeds are associated with male virility and are said to support the adrenal glands.
Stinging nettle seeds are said to make men and horses 'spunky' which explains their traditional use as a fortifying aphrodisiac. They can be added to various love philtres and other amorous concoctions. An expressed oil, as well as an oil extract, can be used to the same effect.