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While children once sucked the sweet nectar from White Dead Nettle flowers, today’s wild food enthusiasts may enjoy the plant in many other ways.
Green-white flowers with heart-shaped, hairy, green leaves. The hollow, hairy, square stems distinguish the plant from Stinging Nettle.
Native to Europe and Asia; naturalised in Britain and Ireland and introduced to North America and New Zealand.
The plant grows along roadsides, waste places, hedgerows, and gardens.
- White Dead Nettle distribution map.
Parts Used for Food
Leaves, flowers, stems.
This perennial flowers from May to December, with seeds ripening from July to December.
Food Uses of White Dead Nettle
The tender leaves and stem tips can be boiled and eaten as a potherb or vegetable, or the leaves chopped and added to omelettes.
The leaves can also be treated like spinach.
Serve the young flowering tops lightly steamed, mixed with spring onions and dressed with butter. For sweet treats or garnish, the flowers can be candied.
Wine is still made from the flowers in Yorkshire, England.
White dead nettle leaves contain about 6.5 g of protein, 76 mg of vitamin C and an incredible 644 vitamin A retinol per 100 g of fresh weight.
The greens are similarly nutritious and contain other constituents such as 76 mg calcium, 34 mg phosphorus, 411 mg potassium, 23 mg magnesium, and 3.4 mg iron per 100 g of fresh plant material.
White Dead Nettle Recipes
Herbal Medicine Uses of White Dead Nettle
White dead nettle has been used as a women’s herb to relieve heavy, painful periods and treat ‘whites’ – leucorrhoea, a white or yellow discharge of vaginal mucous.
White Dead Nettle and Red Dead Nettle (L. purpureum) were mainly used for skin complaints in Irish folk medicine.
White Dead Nettle was a remedy for skin problems and bleeding cuts in parts of England.
A lotion from the flowering tops was applied to piles and varicose veins.
White Dead Nettle flowers are a helpful crop for bees, while Pliny believed the plant discouraged snakes from entering the garden!
The White Dead Nettle is considered a safe plant for food and medicine. There are no known contraindications during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or taking prescribed medications.
This is not absolute proof of its safety, and it is always best to consult with your health advisor.
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Grieve, M. M. (1998) A Modern Herbal. 3rd edition. London: Tiger Books International, PLC.
Allen, D. E. & Hatfield, G. (2004) Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland. Portland, OR: Timber Press.
Anon (2016) Herbalpedia.
Duke, J. A. (2002) Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2 edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.