Well, I knew that they're great for cooking. Some people might even GROW them in order to EAT them. I knew they had prickly leaves, and it's an immediate pain and eventually it goes away. I knew it's not contact dermatitis like poison oak - it has to do with miniscule spines.
But when I was halfway up an embankment in Los Altos Hills, berry pot in left hand and large blackberry cluster taunting me overhead, I decided to embark on a scientific experiment, the outcome of which I was unsure.
Either I could forget about the berries or hoist myself up the embankment by holding onto a stinging nettle plant. And I wasn't sure if the STEMS were covered with the prickly nastiness.
Well, now I know. To my credit, I was only experimenting with MY OWN body, and after being an NCAA volleyball player, 5.10A climber and yogi, I figured what's a little pain?
I shall have to look it up online (when typing doesn't hurt so much) to see if there are actually MORE stingers in the stem than in the leaves. Maybe it will have a dire warning that the toxins are CONCENTRATED in the stems, and after numbing two fingers and my Oh So Important opposable thumb on the right hand, it may be years before I feel all of my digits again.
But if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research. (Einstein)