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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - September 13, 2011

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Are there edible nettles native to the Austin, TX area?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Are there any nettles native to this area? I would like to cook with them (if there is a good substitute, please advise). Thank you.

ANSWER:

There are several plants that have the word nettle as part of their name (Horse nettle Solanum carolinense (Carolina horse-nettle) and Bull nettle Cnidoscolus texanus (Texas bullnettle), but you probably wouldn't want to cook with either of these. The true nettles are in the genus Urtica, eg Urtica dioica (Stinging nettle).

This USDA Distribution map shows Urtica dioica occurring in the state of Texas, but does not show its distribution by county, so I really don't know about it's local occurrence.

Since you are interested in cooking, I’m going to suggest Delena Tull’s “Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest” for recipes and other possibilities.
This link to Botanical.com has good information, both botanical and historical about stinging nettles, and this link to wildmanstevebrill.com is very informative about the use of stinging nettles, and has great photographs.

 

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