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Urtica dioica

Common namesbrennessel, nettle, ortica, ortie
Ecocrop code10679

DESCRIPTION: It is a stout herbaceous plant reaching 80-200 cm in height, often forming dense patches by rhizomes, sparsely to moderately clothed with stinging hairs. Leaf blades ovate to lanceolate, often conduplicate, mostly 5-15 cm long, 2-8 cm wide. USE: Young leaves can be cooked as a potherb or be dried for winter use. They are very nutritious and easily digested and are high in minerals (especially iron) and vitamins (especially A and C). Cooking the leaves, or thoroughly drying them, neutralizes the sting, rendering the leaf safe to eat. Plants are extracted of the chlorophyll, which is used as a green colouring agent (E140) in foods and medicines. A tea is made from the dried leaves. The whole plant is antiasthmatic, antidandruff, astringent, depurative, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and a stimulating tonic. Externally, the plant is used to treat skin complaints, arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids, hair problems etc. A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems. The plant matter left over after the fibres have been extracted are a good source of biomass and have been used in the manufacture of sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol. Oil obtained from the seeds is used as an illuminant. GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. COMMON NAMES: Stinging nettle. FURTHER INF: The leaves of the plants have stinging hairs, causing irritation to the skin. It can be found in waste ground, hedgerows, woods, meadows, and along sunny and shady edges. Prefers a soil rich in phosphates and nitrogen.