Nettle (Urticia dioca)


Dark green plant with tiny stinging hairs that encompass the entire plant, 50–100 cm tall, the leaves grow opposite each other with jagged edges, small greenish to brownish white flowers. Stinging nettles are pretty easy to identify, but if you’re unsure you can always give them a little touch to find out for sure.


Yards, fields, gardens, thickets, rich mixed swamps, next to buildings, roadsides, waste ground, logging clearings, shore and stream-side groves. Stinging nettle is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and western North America, and has also been introduced to other areas.

stinging nettle with nettle seeds

Foraging season

Best time to forage nettle in Finland is in early spring when the nettle is at its best – all the plant’s energy is at its growing points. The whole young plant can be picked. The foraging season can be extended to the mid of the summer if only the top four leaves are picked. The leaves should be picked before flowering. At the end of the summer nettle seeds can be foraged. Do not pick up next to composts, outdoor toilets or barn fences. In these places nettles contain large amounts of nitrate.

Nutritional values

Nettle is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C. Nettle seeds are the most nutritious part of nettle. They contain all the goodies of nettle, vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, magnesium and silicon.


Nettle leaves and seeds has been used to support well-being through history in many ways. There are many health claims related to nettle at the moment in European Food Safety Authority EFSA's register (EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods) waiting for verification.


Use dried or blanched. Try nettle in soups, omelettes, breads, smoothies or bake chips. Nettle seeds can be used fresh in smoothies, in porridge or yoghurt.

To be noted

Nettle tea should not be used by persons who are suffering hearty or kidney insufficiency. Nettle is not recommended for those who have histamine allergy or for those who are pregnant.

 Read our blog post about the Finnish Nettle: Nokkonen on villikasvien kuningas.

Want to try nettle in cooking and learn more about this powerful Finnish herb? Or maybe delight a friend with an inspiring gift? Try out our Nettle Salt or Nettle Pesto

We also have an informative Nettle e-book from Helsinki Wildfoods. It's an e-book about nettle, how to use it in your home cooking, how to forage and preserve it and a bit of folklore about how nettles were used in Finnish traditions in natural skin care and love potions.

Please see a short video on Nettle from Helsinki Wildfoods. 


Photos & Video: Aino Huotari