My thoughts come to a screeching halt. I do not wear gloves most of the time so you can imagine what pulling on of these babies feels like. Horse nettle. It’s a love-hate thing. Let me explain.
Horse nettle is not related to true nettles, but rather to tomatoes and potatoes. There are conflicting reports as to whether it is toxic to animals, but the most common research I have found is if it is eaten in large quantities, then chances are it could be. If I were a goat, one look at those prickly stems and leaves would be enough for me to look elsewhere.
So where does the love part of the relationship come in, you ask? I stumbled upon something a couple of years ago that made me appreciate these little devil plants. I had planted a good bit of potatoes and I noticed a few potato beetle larvae eating the leaves, but nothing to be too alarmed about. As I was picking them off, I noticed a horse nettle plant very close to the potatoes. Guess what was eating it’s leaves almost bare? Colorado Potato Beetles!
Throughout that summer, it was obvious that the beetles and larvae liked eating the Horse Nettle more than the potato plants. So, my potatoes did not suffer that summer.