Stinging Nettles


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide
Stinging Nettles
Stinging Nettle
(Urtica dioica)
The Stinging Nettle is a stinging perennial that grows up to 3 metres in height from spreading rhizomes.

LEAVES:
- The leaves of the Stinging Nettle grow on opposite sides of the stem
- from slender spears to much rounder and elliptical
- jagged deeply toothed
- up to 15 mm. long
FLOWERS:
- Stinging Nettle flowers are tiny and numerous
- greenish in colour
- have no petals
- hang in drooping clusters where the leaves join the main stalk
- the male and female flowers are in separate clusters with the female usually higher
FRUIT:
- 1 seeded, dry, flattened and nut-like
HABITAT:
- Stinging Nettle grows in low to subalpine elevations
- Stinging Nettle usually grows in groups
- very abundant
- prefer a damp, rich soil
- Stinging Nettle appears in disturbed areas; natural such as avalanche tracks or man-made such as barnyards or roadsides
- open woods and meadows
FASCINATING FACTS:
- formic acid is secreted from the broken hollow hairs causing a skin rash
- fresh, young Stinging Nettle leaves can be cooked and eaten
- an infusion of the leaves is used by herbalists as an additive to a natural hair rinse and for skin problems
- a tea made from Stinging Nettle roots and leaves was used for internal problems with the kidney, liver, bladder as well as to treat diabetes
- nettles have been used for years as a 'spring tonic'
- Where Stinging Nettles are found, it is usually possible to find plantain nearby. The green juice extracted from the plantain by crushing (or chewing and mixing with saliva), when rubbed on the affected area of the skin is known to quickly ease the discomfort of stinging nettles or mosquito bites


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Stinging Nettles