Thursday, 11 August 2016

Of the Day #7 - Plant - Stinging Nettle

The Stinging Nettle (not all plants of this species sting) or Common Nettle
Urtica dioica

- Native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and western North America

- Many folk remedies exist for treating the itching, including dandelion, horsetail (Equisetopsida spp.), leaf of dock (Rumex), greater plantain, jewelweed (Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida), the underside of a fern (the spores), mud, saliva, or baking soda, oil and onions, lemon juice, and topical use of milk of magnesia.

 - Nettles have a flavour similar to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without injury. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed-setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract.  In its peak season, nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable. The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a herbal tea, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.

 - Nettle stems contain a bast fibre that has been traditionally used for the same purposes as linen and is produced by a similar retting process. Unlike cotton, nettles grow easily without pesticides. Historically, nettles have been used to make clothing for 2,000 years, and German Army uniforms were made from nettle during World War I due to a shortage of cotton. More recently, companies in Austria, Germany, and Italy have started to produce commercial nettle textiles.

From today in the Gallery at Site, and until the Residency end on 27th August, visitors are invited to take part in a collective cordage making exercise, using  nettles.

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