This is Stinging Nettle. It looks a lot like Lemon Balm or Mint. If you are lucky enough to look a little closer before you touch it, you’ll see hundreds of spines ALL over it:
If you’re not lucky enough to notice the spines before it’s too late, you’ll notice a sharp pain as if you’ve been stuck with thorns. However those spines are not just sharp protrusions like thorns. They are hollow like hypodermic needles and leave an acid under your skin. The pain intensifies for several minutes or more and can last several days. All four of us have been victims of this evil plant at least once since we’ve been here. There is a good bit of it growing on our creek banks and by the road.
There’s not much you can do about the sting other than suffer through the pain and avoid it in the future. Dr. Google says to wash without rubbing, use tape to remove any spines that have stuck in your skin, apply baking soda to neutralize the acid and hydrocortisone for itching. The natural antidote for Stinging Nettle is Jewel Weed which we did have growing along the creek but has already died out for the year. Unfortunately for some individuals (like Granma D, who just a few days ago was tricked by Stinging Nettle’s Lemon-Balm mimicry) it can cause severe pain, swelling of the affected area, and a trip to the Spruce Pine Emergency Room.