Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A-Z 2013 - 'U' Urtica ...

My A-Z posts this year are based on my garden – flowers, animals, the birds and the bees, butterflies - with a bit of poetry thrown in. For some letters I am expecting to cheat somewhat –wishing they were here.

U – Urtica Dioica, Ulex Europaecus, Uvularia

I thought I’d be rash and grasp the nettle and use Latin names for ‘U’

Stinging Nettles (Urtica Dioica)
The nettle poem I've found sounds better when read aloud.

The stinging nettle’s  fine hairs on the leaves and stems contain irritating chemicals which are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. These stinging hairs can also be used to reduce pain in that contact reduces levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and interferes with the way the body transmits pain signals. The stinging nettle has a long medicinal history and was used as a diuretic and for treating painful joints as early as the Middle Ages.

I may not have been on the downs  for Ulex Europaecus but I can vouch for the pain inflicted by their bushes when trying to retrieve my golf ball from an unplayable lie, appropriately enough in Scotland.

Gorse in full flower in Scotland
Here, on the downs, as a tale re-told
The sprays of the gorse are a-blaze with gold,
As of old, on the sea-washed hills of my boyhood,
Breathing the same sweet scent as of old.

As I usually spend some time in Michigan each year I feel justified in including a North American plant.

Uvularia Grandiflora
Uvularia covers a genus of plants which are commonly called bellworts, bellflowers or merrybells. I must confess to never having seen any.

  • Nettles – Vernon Scannell; video reading
  • Gorse – Alfred Noyes
  • Nettles – Lis Burke – CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Gorse – Roger Griffiths – Public Domain
  • Uvularia grandiflora – Kurt Stuber; Wikipedia Commons – CC BY-SA 3.0


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. I provided the answer to the Wooden spoon scenario - the Mathematical Tripos! Thanks for asking though ...

I love these "U"s .. the nettle poem particularly .. I tipped my brother into a nettle patch aiming for the bonfire - no not him! .. to collect some ash probably for the roses .. the wheelbarrow tipped - and screams and yells abounded! Don't they just spring up again ..

I relate to gorse and Cornwall .. covered hillsides - gorgeous warming colours when needed - spikes when not!!

Glad you're obviously feeling a little better - cheers Hilary

aw said...

Strange isn't it, that such an irritating plant as the stinging nettle can have so many beneficial effects, too. I've never been brave enough to try picking the tips and cooking them although I believe they are a good source of iron.

Joe Lunievicz said...

Lovely pictures on your post and enjoyed the poems. Very targeted and wonderful idea for posts on the A-Z.

Francene Stanley said...

Here's my 'snap' message. I like the details you give on the nettle. Also, that's great about the sting having some use. I always knew there was something good about every cure in nature. ;-)
A - Z Challenge

Jo said...

I've never used nettles either, but they are supposed to make wonderful teas and even wines (I have drunk that).

I used a non English name for my U recipe today too.


Kristin said...

I've never seen nettles but maybe I should plant some for their beneficial side. They might make a good plant fence.

Rosalind Adam said...

I can't understand how people manage to pick nettles for tea without getting stung. I suspect it's something to do with grasping them!

Sharon said...

We had Stinging Nettles here for years but seem to have got rid of them all now.
We were told that Stinging Nettle Tea was good for allergies but I never tried to make it.