Common Name: Stinging Nettle, Nettle
Growing up, I remember being warned that it was a dangerous and pesky weed and witnessed Nettle being vehemently mowed down. I also remember a friend of my dad's - much his elder - noting that because of the removal of nettles by Municipal Workers, a vulnerable population of moths on Vancouver Island had nearly disappeared. Indeed, this plant is an incredible source of nutrition not only for people, but also other plants (they share their nutrients), animals, and insects.
When I collect nettles early in the spring or late winter (right now it's the perfect time!), I snip or break the tops 1/3 of the young plants. This encourages them to re-grow and develop more heads and increase the possibility of flower production and seeding. They are a vigorous grower and can populate large spans of land, but heed their growth cycle and remember that you are not the only organism that enjoys or in fact needs this plant for survival.
Pictured in the first picture below are nettles in their flowering stage - avoid collecting leaves during this stage of growth because their mineral components become hard for human liver to break down. After the flowers are pollinated, the develop tiny seeds which are nutritious and useful in tinctures.
The second photo features other plants that are in season at same time as nettles later in the spring - chickweed, lady ferns, salmon berry shoots, bracken fern shoots, curly dock leaves and shoots, and common oxalis.
The last photo is a dish I posted on my old blog, consisting of ricotta gnocchi and creamed nettles.