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Purple dead nettle is easily foraged, when springtime rolls around, you are sure to find dead nettle all over. Not only is it easy to find, but it’s great addition to your natural medicine cabinet as well as culinary, making it a top pick on the homesteading bucket list. Because let’s be honest, a plant you can go pick that works for both food and your natural medicine cabinet you don’t have to plant, hello!
Most people don’t even realize this plant is edible and medicinal. It was commonly thought of as a terrible weed that needed to be eradicated at all costs. When you learn how to recognize it, you’ll discover an entire pantry waiting for you in your backyard, or along roadsides, and in parks. Plus, look at this gorgeous dish you can make (recipe at the end of the guide!)
Where to find purple dead nettle
Look along previously tilled ground, with well drained soil. It can often appear as a ground cover, too. It loves moist soils, and sunny spots.
Purple dead nettle, Lamium purpureum, is a small plant with reddish purple leaves. The leaves appear in an oval, jagged shape and grow off of long, squarish stems. They can grow to be 3-8 cm in length and 2-5 cm in width.
Their square stems make them part of the mint family. Like mint, they can spread like wildfire, even in your garden. Of course, that makes collecting it much easier.
Collecting dead nettle is fairly simple. Simply snip the stems about ½” from the ground, and gently shake to remove any dirt or bugs. You can use any collection container you wish, as there is no need to worry about spreading spores as you would foraging mushrooms. Like all mint, they reproduce from their roots.
They can be rinsed with cool water just before using or drying. You don’t want to soak them too long in the water, as they will turn to mush and not have a good flavor when you use the later.
Purple deadnettle vs henbit- the only lookalike that this plant has is henbit. The difference is henbit has mostly green leaves, with purple flowers. Nettle leaves are almost all purple, with a slightly green edge. Both are completely edible plants, so you don’t have to worry if you mix the two up.
Not to be confused with stinging nettle, purple nettle doesn’t not have any parts of the plant that will sting. Purple nettle is counted among the true nettles, even without the stinging properties.
For more info on foraging and using stinging nettle, including how to make nettle tea click here
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is for informational purposes only, this is not diagnosis or treatment and always check with your medical professional of choice before using anything medicinally.
As a medicinal, they are can be used both dried and fresh in herbal teas. They are a natural diuretic and have astringent, and styptic properties. The herbal infusion can be used for helping to stop minor cuts as well as assisting the body in healing bruises.
To dry the nettle leaves for later:
To use dried nettle in a purple dead nettle salve:
As a wild edible, they are naturally full of Vitamins A and C, as well as being a good source of iron. The flavor is rich and earthy and they are easily used in any recipe like you would spinach.
Try them in:
This dead nettle rice bake is a great way to get to know the flavor of this wild food! You can also use fresh stinging nettles in this dish too.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup washed and dried nettle leaves
1 cup cooked rice (measured after cooked and cooled)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
Foraging for wild food can be fun and rewarding, especially purple dead nettle. What plants do you have in your backyard?