Groundskeepers find giant nettle
June 25, 2008 · Updated 12:24 PM
"With a hand from property owner Kathy Janes, groundskeepers Jordan Thompson and Ronnie Dubs spread out their giant nettle.Jim Larsen/staff photoGroundskeeper Ronnie Dubbs was descending the bluff below Kathy and Steve Janes' expansive estate above Saratoga Passage, two miles outside of Langley, when suddenly he became entangled in giant, stinging nettles.The imaginative Dubbs describes his heroic struggle and his rescue by Steve Janes, who he credits as co-discoverer of the lengthy nettles. He saved me, he said, stone-faced. We almost needed a chainsaw.There is a patch of towering stinging nettles interlaced with other vines that line the wooden steps leading to the beach far below. So Dubbs decided to bring one of the specimens into the light of day to be properly measured for science.With help from fellow worker Jordan Thompson, Dubbs pulled and tugged and dragged the enormous nettle to the top of the steps last week and laid it out on the lawn. It was a brave task. If one assumed the potency of the nettle's poison was commensurate with its height, then it could likely stun a horse -- not that anyone was willing to test the theory.Watching with interest was Kathy Janes, who has landscaped around the area for some 25 years and has never seen nettles of similar size. It's quite a crop, she said. It's amazing.Dubbs' carefully measured the specimen at exactly 17 feet, 3 inches in length, dwarfing the typical stinging nettle, urtica dioica, which commonly grows from 3 to 6 feet in height around Whidbey Island.The Guinness Book of World Records makes no mention of nettles, so there's no telling if Dubbs' specimen is a historic find. But if there's a bigger one on Whidbey Island, he hopes someone else comes across it. "