Common Name: Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle, Nettle
Species: Urtica Dioica
Stinging Nettle is a herbaceous, perennial flowering plant widely spread all over the world. Nettle grows up to 1 or 2 meter tall in summer, dying down to the ground in winter. The soft, green leaves are are borne oppositely on an erect, green stem.
Both leaves and stem have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes which act like needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. The plant has a long history of use as a source of medicine, food, and fiber. When it comes to gardening, and more in general, people often think black or white, good and bad. By thinking this way you may be overlooking some really beneficial things. Plants which are often perceived as weeds and invasive, which technically may be, often have powerful medicinal properties and countless uses and benefits.
Stinging Nettle surely is a super plant that should belong in the top of the botanical hall of fame; this weed is an ideal companion plants, attract beneficial insects, fertilize and moisturize soil, repel pests, and serve as food and medicine.
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What could we possibly ask more from a plant? Nettles have a number of other uses in the vegetable garden, including the potential for encouraging beneficial insects. Since the plant prefers to grow in phosphorus and nitrogen rich soils, the growth of nettles is an indicator that an area has high fertility. Nettles contain a lot of nitrogenous compounds, so are used as a compost activator or can be used to make a liquid fertilizer, low in phosphate, is a useful supplier of magnesium and iron. Macerated in cold water for 12-24 hours is an effective natural repellent against slugs, aphids, mildew, white-flies and spider-mites.
Nettles are an excellent source of protein. They also contain high amounts of vitamins A, B and C, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without worries. Nettle contains one of the highest percentage of protein among vegetable, and for this reason is popular in vegan lifestyle and diet too.
The leaves and roots can be dried and used to make an healthy herbal tea. The smell of dried nettle is somehow pungent, not for everyone, but the benefits may be worth overcome the smell itself. You can use Nettles in a variety of recipes, like any other green leaf vegetables. (Since hot water extracts nutrients from plants, if you overcook vegetables you better throw them out to the rabbits and drink the cooking water instead).
Stinging Nettle is among the most valuable herbal remedies. The whole plant has astringent, diuretic, pectoral, styptic, nutritive, anti-rheumatic, anti-allergenic, stimulant, decongestant, febrifuge, kidney depurative, expectorant, anti-spasmodic. It’s a slow-acting nutritive herb that gently cleanses the body of metabolic wastes. Because diuretic, as herbal tea can be useful in cleansing and detox diets.
This herb is best known for its ability to ease the pain in the muscles and joints caused by arthritis. Used directly on the hair is thought to add shine, and prevent oily hair, dandruff and even baldness. Because of its high vitamin K content, fresh stinging nettle can be used as a poultice to stop bleeding wounds. Being rich in iron this is also an excellent herb for people suffer from anemia and fatigue.