"He that holdeth this herbe in hys hand with an herbe called Mylfoyle, or noseblede is sure from all feare and fantasye or vysion and yf it be put with the juyce of houselyke, and the bearers hande be anoynted with it, and the residue be put in water if he enter in ye water where fyshes be, they will gather together to hys handes. And yf hys hande be drawen forth they will leape agayne to theyr owne places where they were before."

The Boke of the Secrets of Albertus Magnus.

"The flower of the dead nettle is like a weasell's face."

W. Coles, The Art of Simpling.

One of the varieties of nettle (urtica pilulifera) is said to have been introduced into England by the Roman soldiers who brought the seed of it with them. The tradition is that they were told the climate of England was so terrible that it was scarcely endurable, so they sowed these seeds in order to have a plentiful supply of nettles wherewith to rub their bodies and so to keep them warm.

In Scandinavian mythology nettles are sacred to Thor, and to this day in the Tyrol peasants throw nettles on to the fire during a thunderstorm to prevent the house being struck by lightning.

Nettles afford nourishment to a large number of insects. It is the only food of the caterpillars of three of our most beautiful butterflies the Atalanta, Paphia and Urticae, and the principal food of a fourth, Io.

Whipping with nettles was formerly strongly recommended for rheumatism. The bags of "poison" which set up irritation can be seen with the naked eye at the bottom of the prickles on the stalk of a full-grown nettle. Nettles are one of the most valuable of our neglected herbs, for they contain such health-giving salts. Boiled as spinach they afford excellent green food during the early spring when green vegetables are scarce in the garden. Their value as a green food is well known to poultry fanciers. One of the best-known exhibitors in England has such a high opinion of the value of nettles that for the prize stock large quantities of nettles are dried in order that the birds may be supplied with them during the winter months. To make it palatable to the fowls the boiling water is poured on to the nettles, and meal is added to make it into a mash.

Nettles are good for poultry at any time, but they are only good for human consumption during the early spring months. They should never be eaten when they have gone to seed.


One quart of boiling water poured on to five large handfuls of the young tops and left to infuse for several hours.


Boil the young nettle tops in as little water as possible, and when sufficiently cooked rub through a sieve.

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