Thursday, April 1, 2010

Herb o' the Week: Nettle (and Chamomile)

Each week at school we're going to be given a sample of an herb to take home and try out. First we're supposed to try it just in water (tea or decoction, decoction being a longer steeped tea, essentially).
We want to smell it, see it, taste it, feel it.

Do I agree with how it is traditionally used?

Did it make me feel a certain way, or affect something in the body?

For the first week we had chamomile. Official name, matricaria chomomilla (I'm going to have a hard time with this whole latin name business...) Chamomile is one of those obvious herbs, thanks to Beatrix Potter, I'm sure. It's a subtle flavor, meant to calm (a nervine). It is the flowers that are used, fresh or dried. I started growing chamomile a couple years ago - it took me two growing seasons to get flowers, but maybe that was just me. It's good for tension, sore throats, and for colicy babies. My handout also says it's "good for Peter Rabbit".Week 2: Nettles (Urtica dioica or Urtica urens)
Yes, as in stinging nettles. This is the "go to herb" for one of my teachers. It's full of vitamins and minerals. It's a good blood tonic, and an overall strengthening herb. A couple of my classmates described nettle tea like having chicken soup: comforting, warming, filling and fulfilling. I, however, think it's nasty! It smells and tastes rancid to me. Other people have talked about liking the feeling of the sting - for me, no thank you. So this just isn't an herb that speaks to me. I appreciate all the nutrition in nettle, but I do not plan on drinking nettle tea everyday. I think I'll just put it in smoothies, or salads. Cover up that flavor :P (Yes, the sting goes away when you cook or dry it!)


  1. How fun to be able to eat/drink your homework. No more excuses that the dog ate it. You can eat it yourself!I wonder if we can do something medicinally with our dead nettle. It's so pretty, I never thought about it being medicinal as well.

  2. I'm jealous that you have classes like this! They sound so fun! I'm going to call you tonight, I want to hear more. I hope I can get a hold of you.

  3. This is so cool! Please keep this up. I would love to hear about each herb they feel is necessary to teach about. I have always found them interesting, but never really researched them. How are you getting on out there?

  4. So I just added my blog friends to my reader, and am so excited for your herb adventures! I am sick right now, and just chanced to be drinking my honey vanilla chamomile tea while stumbling across this post. We used to grow chamomile when I was young, and maybe I should try again. Your little strawberry plant from years past that we still have has doubled into 2 plants. And I just received Beatrix Potter's 23 book collection last week, so thanks for the unknown Peter trivia :) Happy growing!