Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The stinging nettel - Urtica ureus and Urtica dioica

Well, back to the "weeds"...

Stinging Nettel - Urtica dioica
This one is disliked by almost anyone, as it gives your skin a burning sensation and red marks upon touching. Therefore, most just cut it down as soon as possible!

But even this plant has some good sides, too.

The plant itself acutally can grow taller than me, that means more than 164cm high... They already gave me some troubles while walking around in the forest, but that's another story. Some times they even can grow 3 meters tall! But I think that is the bigger version, the Urtica Dioica. The smaller version, the urtica ureus, usually grows between 10-60 cm and is a bit less common.

They grow almost anywhere, but the places where I saw them the most until now is on watersides and forests.  All in all, they need moist soil. They grow mainly in northern europe, north america and asia. 

As a side note, those plants have quite some irony - they like to live near humans, near settlements and abandoned settlements - and like you know, they love to sting, so....

When they grow, they grow - a lot
The leaves are covered by little "hairs", that break of when touching. The liquid which then can come in contact with the skin is what gives that "allergic" reaction. It is a mechanism of the plant to protect itself.

You can eat that plant, despite to that! And they have quite some "healing" effects, too. But I would recommend the young plants and also the smaller version, the ureus ones. The older they get, the more they sting, and the more they are "bitter".

As a tea they can clean the blood, for example. Taking a bath with them also helps with blood circulation problems. They are also supposed to help with diarrhea. 
You can eat the plants raw. leaves and roots, but also can cook it, and use it in a various of dishes. You can also dry the leaves and use them later. They are supposed to contain a large amount of vitamin c.

But if you prefer the chemical components and their effects other the common/ old knowledge, you should take a look at this nice helpful list:


Here is a nice video about it that is quite helpful if you want to know more. He also talks about the different types of stinging nettle and which one is best to use. As well as some tips on how to use them. It is by Eat the Weeds.





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