Can I use Horse Nettle the same as Common Nettle?

bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Wild Edibles & Medicinals

I was told the nettle we have locally is horse nettle. I've been unable to find info on this.

In the mts in west central PA.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,281 admin
    edited April 2020

    If your horse nettle is the same plant that that grows wild all over the Carolinas, and goes by that name... then NO... like ABSOLUTLEY NO in big, bold letters! While it does have some medicinal properties, horse nettle is very poisonous and should only be used by an herbalist who is very familiar with it. Horse Nettle is a completely different family than stinging nettle (Utica diocia). Horse nettle is In the nightshade family.

    Herb: Horse Nettle

    Latin name: Solanum carolinense

    Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

    Medicinal use of Horse Nettle: This plant should be used with caution, see the notes above on toxicity. The berries and the root are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac and diuretic. They have been used in the treatment of epilepsy. They have been recommended in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other convulsive disorders. The berries should be harvested when fully ripe and carefully air-dried. An infusion of the seeds has been gargled as a treatment for sore throats and drunk in the treatment of goitre. A tea made from the wilted leaves has been gargled in the treatment of sore throats and the tea has been drunk in the treatment of worms. A poultice made from the leaves has been applied to poison ivy rash.

    Description of the plant:




    100 cm

    (3 1/4 foot)


    July to


    Habitat of the herb: Dry fields and waste ground, usually in sandy soils.

    Other uses of Horse Nettle: The leaves have been used as an insecticide.

    Propagation of the herb: Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

    Cultivation of Horse Nettle: Dry fields and waste ground, usually in sandy soils.

    Known hazards of Solanum carolinense: All parts of the plant are potentially poisonous. Fatalities have been reported with children.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,390 admin

    Even experienced herbalists likely leave this one alone. It contains tropane alkaloids as do most of the Solanum species, which affect the autonomic nervous system causing paralysis (maybe that is why it has been indicated as above for epilepsy). It can be very irritating to the mucosal membranes so not sure about the above mentioned use as a gargle..

    It appears to be invasive, depending on where you live, so maybe not a good choice to encourage in your garden.

    My advice: Leave this one alone. Lots of other plants to use instead.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    Thank you everyone for the info. Everything I found was like use it - no don't. I try to live by the "If there is that many yes/no on one plant stay away, there are so many other plants I can use, I don't want to mess with the maybe danger plants. We're just going to dig up any I see. We don't want it here