U is for Urtica Dioica

I bet you don’t know what that is!  It was very hard to find something beginning with U.  I had to use the special Latin name they use for naming plants.  Mummy said if I didn’t want to use this one I could talk about the Umbelliferous plants that we eat.  But I’ve already done that as it’s carrots and things in that family.  I did mention Urtica dioica once by its English name.  It’s as good as spinach but you have to be very careful when you pick it and cook it.  Mummy has a recipe for soup and for a pie using it.  She went and picked some at Easter wearing her thickest gardening gloves.  Have you guessed yet?  It’s the stinging nettle!

It might sound strange to you that we like stinging nettles, but if you bite them right you don’t get stung.  The little hairy things that jab you are on the underside of the leaf.  So if you grab them right you squash them before they can do anything. The young leaves are the best.  They don’t really develop their sting till they are older anyway.  Then if you dry them they don’t sting at all.  They are really nice dried and put in our forage mixes and in the Excel Treats (E for Excel).

Mummy says our North American friends may not know what stinging nettles are.  I will get a photo for you.  They are weeds (native wildflowers) that grow very thick.  Lots of butterfly caterpillars feed on them.  Lots of people spend a lot of time and money pulling them out and trying to kill their roots.  Mummy often pulls them out and gives them to us, but we only nibble them when they are very small.  They taste good though.  The sting gives you people a rash a bit like poison ivy perhaps, Mummy says, but she’s never encountered poison ivy personally.

Here’re some nettles by our wall:

I don’t know why it is called urtica in Latin.  Maybe urtica means nettle.  Anyway, that is my offering for U.

7 thoughts on “U is for Urtica Dioica

  1. Hello Victor.
    We do get nettles here in Cape Town, they make very nice soup, but as you say, they are much better when young. Winter is coming to South Africa soon and then we will be getting lots of rain in the Western Cape, time for nettles. Mushrooms are also coming soon. Do you eat mushrooms?
    For me the most difficult letters, as far as writing is concerned, have been “I” and “Y”. Isn’t it strange how the one letter we use the most, when talking to others, is one of the most difficult ones to find subject matter on?
    You keep on blogging my little furry friend, Geoff.


    1. Victor

      I’m very pleased to see you here Mr Geoff!! I was wondering what you meant about winter then I remembered something my old friend Fred did in his Think PIeces. You are on the Other Side of the World! It’s so exciting!
      No we don’t eat mushrooms. Mummy does but they are poisonous for us. Yes I was very difficult, but Y is easy as one of my favourite things starts with Y. Z was difficult. So was X. But I managed it!


  2. Auntie Dawn

    Very clever, Vic. I was wondering what kind of magic you’d pull off for the letter U.

    Thanks for the explanation and photo. Mummy will have to make the soup for me sometime.


    1. Victor

      I think she put some in the freezer for you Auntie Dawn. In case it isn’t nettle season when you come next time.


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