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Be Nice to Nettles..........

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Author Topic: Be Nice to Nettles..........  (Read 120 times)
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2009, 10:47:00 am »

Hmm I have to see it. I'm not sure what it looks like. All I know is that the other day I ate Nettle cheese and it kinda bit me on the tastebuds. Grin
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« on: July 16, 2009, 04:39:22 am »

Food, medicine and clothes
The common nettle, Urtica dioica , has received a bad name because of its irritating sting and reputation as a weed. But in the past, its role has been much more favourable.

Before the late 1900s, the nettle was used as a food, for clothing and for medicine. Nettles have been eaten for centuries and the young shoots can be used in delicious soups and stews like spinach. A fine fibre can be made from nettles and then spun and woven into a cloth.

Some of the many medical properties nettles have been used for include treatment for aches and pains, gout and arthritis and as a natural anti-asthmatic and anti-histamine treatment.

The famous sting and remedy dock leaf
The sting of the nettle is actually very similar to the structure of a hypodermic needle - it is a hollow stiff hair with a swollen base containing the venom. The tip of the hair is very brittle and easily breaks off if brushed against, exposing a sharp point that penetrates the skin and delivers its sting.

 Dock plant © Steven J Baskauf/ Bioimages
If you get stung, always look around as there is usually a natural remedy, the dock leaf, growing close by. The dock leaf contains chemicals that when rubbed over the sting neutralise it and also cool the skin down.

We should think ourselves lucky in the UK as nettles elsewhere in the world can have a much harsher effect - a nettle species in Timor, southeast Asia, causes a burning sensation and symptoms like lockjaw that can last for days or weeks.

Gardener's choice
Nettles are a great home for ladybirds and so are a big help to gardeners trying to fight off plagues of aphids. They are also full of nitrogen that can be used for breaking down woody material in your compost heap.

Nettles are also thought to have anti-fungal properties as they seem to protect neighbouring plants from fungal diseases and when used as a packing material for fruit they prevent mould growth
Food from nettles
People have eaten the nettle for many centuries and at one point would have been relished as springtime treat! Pepys wrote in his diary of having eaten ‘...some nettle porridge, which was very good’.

Nutritionally the nettle is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron and numerous trace elements as well as a range of vitamins. The young shoots can be used in soups and stews and in place of spinach

Not only humans have benefited from the consumption of the nettle. When dried and turned into a hay the nettle loses its sting and becomes palatable to livestock. In Sweden the nettle is sometimes cultivated for this purpose and fed to milk cattle because of the increased milk production that results.

Horse breeders have often added nettle seeds to horse feeds to give the animals a sleek coat.

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