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Common Nettle (Urtica dioica L.)

Stinging nettles are unmistakable because of their stinging hairs - as early as the Middle Ages, a botanist joked: "The stinging nettle is the only plant you can recognize even at night." The great stinging nettle is perennial and reproduces essentially vegetatively by runners. The plant is dioecious, which means that there are male and female specimens - so if you want to collect nettle seeds, for example, you will only find them in the female plants.

Origin and cultivation.

The stinging nettle is originally at home in riparian forests and along streams. Because it thrives in locations with a high nutrient content, it is now found almost everywhere where people in temperate climates provide well-fertilized soils. The fact that it often even forms stands facilitates poaching. However, the nettle is also cultivated commercially. While in the past its properties as a fiber plant were valued (for the production of nettle cloth), today the focus is more on the beneficial ingredients of the leaves.


The common nettle (medicinal plant of the year 1996) gets the body going: it stimulates the metabolism and promotes blood circulation, its high potassium content has a strong diuretic effect. The ingredients of the nettle also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is why meat, fish and butter used to be wrapped in large nettle leaves to keep these foods fresh for longer. The active ingredients of the stinging nettle root have very different properties from those of the leaves: among other things, they influence the testosterone balance in humans.

Use of the nettle.

  • The leaves are approved as a herbal medicine for muscle or joint pain and for flushing the urinary tract. A positive effect in rheumatic diseases has also been noted. Nettle leaves are also used in cooking: as tasty spinach, in soups, smoothies, etc., and as an ingredient in tea blends
  • The roots contain active substances that act on testosterone in the human body. For this reason, nettle root is used in hair tonics: Men with high testosterone levels often suffer from hormone-related hair loss; nettle root extract can slow down this process
  • The seeds, like the leaves, are very rich in minerals and vitamins and are used in cooking as a "superfood".
  • In addition to the large stinging nettle, there is also the small stinging nettle (Urtica urens) in this country. While the greater stinging nettle usually forms dense stands through runner formation, the lesser stinging nettle grows singly, for example in the middle of the garden bed, and stings even more painfully than its big sister
  • The caterpillars of many butterfly species, for example lesser fox and peacock butterfly, feed on stinging nettle leaves. A small corner with nettle in the garden supports them.

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