Nettle

Nettle

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Botanical name: Urticadioica

Common names: Nettle

Characteristics

  • Wild perennial herb with stinging barbs on stem and underside of leaves for protection from animals that might eat or uproot it. They inject a cocktail of formic acid histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin, the reasons for the swelling and itchy skin.
  • Important source for wildlife: ladybirds live on nettles when growing and developing.
  • High content of nitrogen. Very good for composting, young nettles are used to make tea, soup and beer
  • High in vitamins C and A. Leaves wildly used for medicinal purposes (aches and pains, gout, arthritis)
  • Fibres of nettles are similar to linen and can be spun to make yarn. In Scotland nettle yarn was used to make tablecloths and bed sheets. Nettle fabric was used to make German uniforms in World War I and also used in the army to dye fabric in green for camouflage.
  • Leaves can be used to pack fruit to keep it fresh and ripe and stopping mould from forming.

Dying Properties

  • Colour: Young plants (Spring & summer}: pale greens and yellows. Old plants (Autumn): Khakis & warm tans. With iron mordant: grey & brown
  • Parts used/Foraging Season: Plant tops, all seasons

Location:

Smallholding. Poet’s path, museum end