And not without reason. It grows almost everywhere, its thickets as tall as a human being are a real jungle, just thinking about them makes you want to scratch non-existent burns.
Nevertheless, the harmful plant found a place in medicine, cooking, and the weaving industry.
A bit of botany
Nettle is a perennial or annual herb with straight stems and serrated leaf margins. As a rule, the leaves and stems are protected by stinging needles.
Each needle is a large cell, shaped like a medicine ampoule. Its tip protrudes above the surface of the plant and contains silicon salts. The slightest touch is enough for the tip to pierce the skin, break, and the cell juice enters the body.
At the moment, over 50 species have been discovered. The territory of the Russian Federation is dominated by Urtica dioica (dioecious) and Urtica urens (burning).
Stinging nettle is a perennial plant up to 1.5–1.7 m high. The entire aerial part is dotted with needles with formic acid inside. For this reason, contact with it often leads to burns. This species tends to form dense wrens.
Stinging nettle (monoecious) – annual, does not exceed 50 cm in height, but the burns from its needles are especially painful. Grows in small groups, thickets are rare.
Nettle leaves are a real fair of vitamins. Ascorbic acid is 2 times more than in lemon and black currant. Nettle preparations have a hemostatic effect, which is due to the presence of vitamin K. And this is not a complete list of vitamin richness.
Also, the leaves are saturated with chlorophyll, which is used as a dye in the production of medicines and food. The roots contain nicotine. The scalding effect is caused by the presence of hairs in the cell sap:
• formic acid.
Nettle infusions are used to treat dermatitis and eczema, with their help wounds and burns heal. Nettle is a component of many herbal preparations aimed at combating diseases of the stomach, kidneys, and bleeding. Plus, it’s a great vitamin complex. Nettle extract is part of the drug allochol, it is taken 1-2 tablets three times a day after meals for liver and biliary tract diseases.
Also, nettle is used to make shampoo against dandruff and hair loss.
Stinging nettle is valuable for nutritional qualities. Young leaves are added to salads, cabbage soup, borscht are cooked from them, nettle soups are especially useful during spring beriberi. A variety of teas are brewed from the leaves of this plant, casseroles, cutlets, dumplings are prepared, and pickles are made. Nettle is found in some alcoholic beverages.
Nettle fabrics became widespread in the Middle Ages. Shirts, bags, sails were sewn from it. In Japan, the material for samurai armor was nettle rope combined with silk, shields were made of thick dry stems, and bowstrings were twisted nettle fiber treated with wax.
Later, with the development of cotton factories, cotton fabrics collapsed in value, and nettles were forgotten for a long time.
However, in WWI Germany, the streaming production of military uniforms depleted cotton supplies. And again, nettle was in demand as a cheap and affordable raw material. Soldiers’ clothes made from it were light, durable, did not wrinkle, did not deteriorate from dampness, and most importantly, because of the low thermal conductivity, it protected them better than cotton from heat and cold. Unfortunately, in the minds of people, nettle tissue began to be associated with the war, and after its end, the plant that saved more than one life was forgotten again.
In the manufacture of fabrics, nettle has a number of advantages over other materials. It grows everywhere, it does not require watering and maintenance. In addition, it does not need to be protected from pests and other weeds.
Although considered a pesky weed, nettles can be beneficial. This is not only a good raw material for a single business executive, but also a promising agricultural product of an industrial scale. Who knows, maybe in the future, endless fields of agricultural nettles will become commonplace?