Nettle
Nettle
Nettle
Nettle

Nettle

urtica doica

Nettle leaf can support healthy energy levels. Nettle also is commonly used to decrease seasonal allergic responses, such as hay fever.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Stinging Nettle
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves, seeds & roots
  • Side Effects: Very Drying, Inflammation/redness from response to sting
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About Stinging Nettle

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is also hailed as stinging nettle as its leaves are reported to leave temporary burns on the skin. It is an herbaceous perennial plant is a proud member of the Urticaceae family. The plant is neglected excessively due to its stinging reputation but it surely owes some awesome benefits that baffle the mind.

The plant is prone to achieve an amazing height of about 7 feet in summer that is ironically destroyed by the winters. These delicately soft leaves with serrated margins are about 6 inches long and are organized oppositely on an erect stem. The plant is also marked with copious flowers that are a blend of a greenish and brownish color.

A cocktail of chemical gets injected if the trichomes of the plant get touched. The tips of the trichomes come off and the hair-like bodies of the plant transform into needles that serve a medium for injection. The cocktail of substances includes histamine, acetylcholine, formic acid, and 5-hydroxytryptamine. The tyrannized person experiences inflamed bumps that feel itchy afterward.

On the contrary, this underrated and frequently underestimated plant has many commendable virtues. In contemporary agriculture, nettle is considered as a weed but the number of benefits that this hero grants have earned many double-takes. The paradoxical yet valuable benefits of nettle include: reduction in inflammation, managing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, controls hay fever, and normalize the blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also helps with arthritis, eczema, gout, and anemia.

Growing

Nettles grow with tremendously when the seeds are sown 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your region.

Plantation of nettles can be initiated in both indoor and outdoor settings. At least three seeds are required to be sown in peat pots that are filled with potting soil. The seeds are supposed to stay in moist condition to germinate robustly within 14 days.

For outdoors, plant the seeds in spring in rich soil. The area of interest should stay moist to bring about germination.

Another way of growing nettles is to start planting indoors, then transplant it outdoors in case of stratification, but it is not necessary.

Harvesting

Nettle is a perennial weed that survives from year to year and flowers more than once. To see the nettle thrive with joy, they are germinated in spring. When favorable conditions dive into play, the underground stems rhizomes emerge that go hand in hand with the growth of leaves.

The blooming season continues from March till June. Pollination of the plant occurs by pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and birds. The flowers of the plant develop into a small and dry one-seeded fruits. The nettle plant has the ability to re-seed vigorously if the favorable conditions continue to persist.

Stinging nettles are ready to harvest when they are about a foot tall (minimum) that usually happens 80 to 90 days after sowing the seeds. The finest quality of nettles can be obtained in the first few weeks of spring as the leaves are young and soft.

The process of harvest can be pursued till summer but the stalk and stems become fibrous so just top leaves are picked. Another key target is to harvest the leaves before the blooming season because the arrival of flowers results in leaves becoming bitter and developing certain gritty particles that prove to be irritable for the human urinary tract.

Harvesting nettles is a tough job because you have to be careful about not getting in contact with the plant. Wear gloves and stay fully clothed while doing the job. It is recommended to be armed with long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and firm shoes.

The stings are for real.

The nettle plant is harvested for its leaves, stem, and rhizomes.

To obtain the stems of the plant, a cut is made 2 to 3 inches above the ground to ensure another harvest by the next midsummer. The leaves are just picked or snipped off with bare hands because they are very soft and tender.

Rhizomes are harvested by digging and lifting up the plant. The amount of rhizome can be cut according to respective needs. The plant is able to thrive even from the rhizome too.

The nettles are stored in paper bags right after cutting them. Plastic bags are not employed to do so as they do not provide the passage for air transmission. This results in condensation that welcomes the molds with open arms.

The paper bag containing nettle cuttings is stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator to be used later.

The leaves and stems can also be dried in air or by utilizing the dehydrator.

Usage

For many years, the nettle plant is used for various medicinal purposes. But before making this plant a part of your routine, you need to consult a credible trusted source.

  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped nettle leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Fresh nettle leaves are steeped in boiling water for just 5 minutes. 
  • Decoction - Nettle leaves are left in boiling for overnight and strained in the morning. This makes a precious decoction.
  • Salve - Dried nettle leaves, beeswax and carrier oil such as olive oil are used to form a pain-relieving salve.
  • Syrup - Nettle tops are combined with water that already contains dissolved sugar to make nettle syrup.
  • Infused oil - Wilted nettles and seeds are immersed in olive oil 3 weeks. The jar is left to sit to form nettle oil.