Urtica gracilis (often classified as a subspecies of stinging nettle,Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis) is a widespread nettle species in North America including Canada and Alaska. It has many local names including slender nettle, California nettle and American nettle. This year, my tallest nettle is currently over 2.9m high!
It was (and is) an important plant of the first peoples throughout the continent from Vermont to Alaska,used as a vegetable, medicinally and, most importantly as a fibre plant, including fishing nets!.
One native use I noted was “Rubbed on the bodies of sealers to keep them awake at night” :) (Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany has a long list of uses)
My slender nettle has almost no stinging hairs, and, in general, has much less than stinginess
than the introduced Urtica dioica subsp. dioica (Stinging Nettle) and Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle; see my book Around the World in 80 plants).
It is unisexual ( I seem to have just one sex as it doesn’t produce seeds…)
Added 300917: The friend in Granville, Ohio who sent me the seed of this nettle writes: “I collected the Urtica gracilis along the back of my property, near an old railroad (now a bike trail). It’s a common plant in “waste places”. I’ve never seen the plants grow that large here. Could your additional sunlight be to blame?”
Sand leek (rocambole) or Allium scorodoprasum gives bigger yields here than leeks, so it’s not surprising to learn that this perennial onion was probably cultivated by the Vikings (it is found naturalised near many old Viking settlements in Scandinavia) and I believe it is the original “geirlauk” (meaning spear onion) and the root of the word garlic in English… See also pages 215-217 in my book!
I hadn’t noticed the red base to the stems seen in these pictures before…
I used it in a quick scrambled egg dish together with Amish onion (Allium x proliferum), sorrel flower shoots, ground elder (Aegopodium), nettle (Urtica dioica), Hydrophyllum virginianum (water leaf) with golpar spice.
These pictures can also be seen on my 700 plus album of Allium pictures on Facebook here….http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=11254
Almost 2 years ago on 29th April 2014, this quiche features perennial vegetables, starring Hablitzia / Stjernemelde, Allium victorialis / Seiersløk, Ground Elder / Skvallerkål, Stinging Nettle / Brennesle, Garlic / Hvitløk and homegrown chili, with a 100% wholemeal barley, rye and spelt crust, parmesan cheese and served with Jerusalem artichokes and Blue Congo potato and topped with dried with dried Alpine Bistort / Harerug bulbils!! Doesn’t get much better!!