Urtica dioica ( Stinging nettle)

Common Name: Nettle, Stingingtsouknida

Scientific Name: Urtica dioica

Family Name: Nettle (Urticaceae)

Flower Color: Green- pale green

Habitat: Thickets and waste places

General Bloom Dates: June - September

General Characteristics:
The minute (1/12"), green flowers lie in the axils of the leaves in long slender clusters. The plants are often unisexual, but some may have male flowers in the upper axils and female flowers in the lower axils. Stinging Nettle leaves are heart shaped, coarsely toothed, taper at the tips, are about 2"-4" long, and also bear the notorious stinging hairs. The stalk is angled and covered with stinging hairs, and reaches 1' - 3' in height.

    
Plant Lore:
The genus Urtica is from the Latin "uro" - "I burn" and the species "dioica" is from Greek and means "two households" and refers to the dioecious plants (single sex plants either male or female).
"OUCH!" Looking around my hiking companion and I could not see the culprit which left our legs burning so we hurried our pace as we walked through a large "forest" of what we latter found out was nettle. By the time we reached the middle of the patch the stinging had intensified and we realized that it was the plants which were causing our despair. What a sight we must have been running through the woods pulling our knees to our chest with each stride and landing on our tip-toes as quickly and vertically as possible. Spouting out words of pain and those which would have earned us a different type of pain had our parents been around, we leapt into a nearby stream hoping to sooth the sensation with the cool water, but to no avail. Lucky for us the burning faded away within a few minutes and we returned home, legs red, eyes frantically searching for the toothed heart shaped leaves, and a lesson learned.
The stinging or burning sensation comes from stinging hairs which cover the stalk and have a tiny sac full of formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and other unknown substances. .
Supposedly an easy remedy for the sting of nettle is to rub either the crushed stems of jewelweed or bracken fern on the affected area.

Modern Uses of this Plant:
Scientists have accidentally found that freeze-dried nettle works as a hay-fever remedy. It has also been use to control bleeding, flu, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, gout, diseases of glands, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, intestinal disorders and diarrhea, worms, hemorrhoids, eczema, and possibly prostate cancer and hepatitis. A large part of nettles being such excellent remedies/aids is that they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as being 10% protein, which is more than any other vegetable. Aside from nettles being so healthy, they are also a good wild munchie (when properly prepared) usually they are cooked (boiled or steamed) for 5 - 10 minutes or dried and made into a tea.

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Created by 3ds-for-orama
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