Spring brings with it a multitude of foraging goods.
Among them, we find Dead Nettle, a family of plants that look like nettle but do not sting.
Some know about their edibility but not many know that it is a real woman ally, that helps with womb imbalances and menstrual pain.
Come meet the most common varieties of Dead Nettle alias Lamium (genus) that are probably blooming right now just around the corner and learn how to eat it and use it effectively.
As always, for recipes, just scroll down…
The first dead nettle specie that appeared in my backyard in the end of winter is also the most common in Europe. When it starts sprouding, it looks like early stage nettle but it is very small compared to it.
It is 10-20 cm tall, with opposite leaves and hairy stems. It has violet flowers that are clustered in axillary groups.
Lamium Purpureum, so it is called, is not only a gift to us but it is also one of the most attractive and delicious flowers for bees. Because of its sweet smell and flavor, bees simply love it. And I do too.
It is an almost forgotten wild food but, as many other spring greens, it is packed with amazing nutrients. It usually grows in huge patches and it is largely available throughout the seasons.
Lamium purpureum contains a big amount of mucilage, tannins, saponins and potassium. Therefore, it ranks in the top 10 of spring detox greens because of its ability of increase urine elimination and toxins excretion.
Another amazing member of this family is Lamium Album. This wild green is highly available in Denmark and it has a long history as folk medical remedy.
Lamium Album or White Lady is as big as nettle and very similar to it, but it has axillary white flowers that help with the identification, and of course it does not sting.
Lamium Album like all other plants in this genus is a bees favorite and its pleasant taste makes it very attractive for most palates.
The medicinal action of this specie is contained, as the other species in this genus, in the leaves and was used in the past to help reestablish mothers womb’s balance and to regulate menstruation.
Its action is explained in its capability of acting on womb contractility and regulating the contraction-relax phases of the latter .
In Denmark, beside its use in the women menses, it was also used for cough and bronchitis, to relieve symptoms and help elimination of catarrh .
Lamium Galeobdolon, Maculatum and Amplexicaule
Beside these two species, many others are drawing the attention of herbalists, foragers and plant lovers.
In particular Lamium Galeobdolon, which is very similar to the album in terms of size and properties but has yellow flowers and the more exotic specie of Lamium Maculatum, which is taller and has peculiarly patterned violet flowers that make this plant outstandingly beautiful.
Since it is very common on danish coasts, I would also like to mention Lamium Amplexicaule, the creeping version of this genus, that is often mis-identified with lamium purpureum. This specie, also called henbit, has purple flowers just like lamium purpureum but the leaves are rounded in this case and the upper leaves grasp the stem with no petioles.
It is an herbal stimulant, and all the areal parts can be eaten.
If you want to know more about how to recognize and use wild plants, I will soon arrange herbal walks and foraging sessions in the greater Copenhagen area. To stay updated and not miss the events, I suggest you to follow my Instagram page “the herbal geek” or on Facebook “Traditional Herbalism Denmark”.
Culinary uses and recipes
But now, the recipes. As every week, I will make sure my favorite recipes containing Dead Nettle, reach you.
Dead Nettle is awesome for stir fried vegetables, pestos and stuffing. It does not have a bitter or strong flavor and therefore it can be easily adapted to most recipes.
Any type of Lamium can be used for these recipes.
I have used Lamium Purpureum ad album because they are largely available in my area. here today I would like to share the Quiche of spinach and dead nettle (serves 4).
- 200 g of dead nettle
- 200 g of spinach
- 250 g of almond ricotta cheese
- 1 chia seed egg (1 Tbs of chia seeds with 3 Tbs of water, waiting 10/15 min and voila!)
- 1 Tbs Nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
- muscat nut
- 1 pack of vegan butter dough
- fresh basil
Clean the vegetables, and boil them together for 5-6 min. Then dry them and gently fry them in 2 tbs of oil. In a bowl mix the chia seed egg, the almond ricotta cheese, the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and muscat nut. Then add the coarsely copped greens. place the mix in the butter dough and then garnish with some fresh basil. leave it in a preheated oven at 180 ⁰C for 25-30 min.
The second recipe is very quick and easy to prepare. it is a Vegan Dead nettle frittata (serves 4).
- 2 large handfuls of dead nettle
- 2 onions
- 2 zucchini
- 100 g flour
- 100 g corn flour
- 1 Tbs Nutritional yeast
- 1 ts Smoked paprika
- olive oil
Beat the flours and the water together until a butter is formed. In the meanwhile chop the onions, the zucchini and dead nettle that has been boiled, squeezed and chopped in advance. Mix with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and nutritional yeast, the water-flour mixture and the vegetables. Add corn flour on top and then bake for 40 min in static oven (200 C).
I invite you to try them at home and let me know what you think in the comment section.
Until next time, green blessings,