Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle Urtica dioica

Detailed Listing For
Botanical Name:

Urtica dioica







Common Name:

Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle

3-4 feet
Minimum Hardiness Zone:

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  • Urtica dioica

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Growing Info, follow in order:
Scarification: none required.
Stratification: none required.
Germination: surface sow and keep moist, tamp the soil. Cover to keep light out. Remove cover after germination.
In a Nutshell:
* Urtica dioica, often called common nettle, stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting) or nettle leaf, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and western North America, and introduced elsewhere.
* The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals.
* Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterflies, such as the peacock butterfly or the small tortoiseshell, and are also eaten by the larvae of some moths including angle shades, buff ermine, dot moth, the flame, the gothic, grey chi, grey pug, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, mouse moth, setaceous Hebrew character, and small angle shades.
* U. dioica has a flavour similar to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without injury.
* Historically, nettles have been used to make clothing for 2,000 years, and German Army uniforms were almost made from nettle during World War I due to a potential shortage of cotton. More recently, companies in Austria, Germany, and Italy have started to produce commercial nettle textiles.
* Nettles contain a lot of nitrogenous compounds, so are used as a compost activator or can be used to make a liquid fertilizer, which although somewhat low in phosphate, is useful in supplying magnesium, sulphur, and iron.They are also one of the few plants that can tolerate, and flourish in, soils rich in poultry droppings.
* Direct sowing: The seedbed should have a loose and fine structure, but should be reconsolidated using a packer roller imminently prior to sowing. Sowing time can be either in autumn or in spring. Seed density should be 6 kg/ha with row spacing of 30 cm and 42–50 cm in autumn and spring, respectively.The disadvantage of direct sowing is that it usually leads to incomplete plant coverage. This drawback can be mitigated by covering the seedbed with a transparent perforated foil in order to improve seed germination.Further, weed control can be problematic as the stinging nettle has a slow seedling development time. more...
* Young leaves are edible, cooked as a potherb and added to soups etc. They can also be dried for winter use. Nettles are a very valuable addition to the diet, they are a very nutritious food that is easily digested and is high in minerals (especially iron) and vitamins (especially A and C). Only use young leaves (see the notes above on toxicity) and wear stout gloves when harvesting them to prevent being stung.
* A beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems. A yellow dye is obtained from the root when boiled with alum. more...
Physical Characteristics  Urtica dioica is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate. It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 11-Mar It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from Jun to October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
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Usda description:
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Medicinal Comments:

The hairs, sting, on the leaves contain histamine and formic acid making them high in nutritious. Dried leaves can be made into a tea and used as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier for rheumatism, gout, arthritis, and hay feaver. Nettle root has been gaining interest in the treatment of disorders associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The responsibility for using plants medicinally is yours. We cannot assume any liability for any detrimental influences.

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