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Fennel

Sean Picking Young Fennel Stems Among Last Year's Seed Stalk

Botanical Name: Foeniculum vulgare

Family Name: Umbelliferae

Common Names: Sweet Fennel

Fennel is a perennial. It will grow four feet tall or more.  The whole plant gives off an anise or licorice scent and taste

Leaf: The feathery leaves look like delicate green lace.

Stem: Erect stem, thickened by rings at the nodes

Flower: The yellow flowers are borne in large terminal umbels

Seeds: The seeds are narrow ovoid fruits with blunt ends and with eight longitudinal ribs almost 1⁄2 long and slightly curved like caraway

Leaf: The leaves can be harvested from early Spring through the Fall.

Stem:  The stems are tastiest in the Spring but can be unsheathed of the outer tougher portion till Fall to consume the celery like insides

Flower: Flowers bloom in July and August

Seeds: Harvest seeds when they are fully ripe and then dried.

Fennel likes to grow in waste lands, poor chalky and sandy soils suit it fine.  Fennel can become quite invasive so be sure to plant it in a corner where you don’t mind it takes over.

Leaves: As an herb, fennel leaves are used in French and Italian cookery, most commonly in sauces for fish, stuffings, and in mayonnaises. Its delicate anise flavor is valued for sausages, salads, breads and pastas. Fennel has a special affinity with fish and the dried stalks can be used as a bed for grilled fish or the seeds scattered sparingly on to bass, red mullet or sardines while barbecuing. It also adds a subtle flavor to creamed fish soup. Fennel is a popular flavoring with pork in Italy. Stir the chopped leaves into hot tomato soup to heighten its flavor; add them to meat loaves and polenta. Sprinkle them over salads or into marinades. Chopped fresh fennel does wonders for white bean salad.    Fresh fennel leaves can be frozen for up to two months, packed in small bunches in plastic bags. Use them as you would fresh.

Stems: Treat the hollow stalks as you would celery in cooking. Eat them raw or simmer the stalks in water or chicken stock as a vegetable to be served with butter. They can also be sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Add them to soups or stews. Let children use a fresh fennel stalk as a straw for sipping orange juice. Chop the stalks in a food processor and toss in the pot for last 15 minutes of cooking. The softened stalks will thicken the consistency without adding fat.

Seeds: The seed is not so widely used, but like many other seeds, it flavors breads and cakes, puddings, pastries and confectionery. It is an ingredient of Chinese Five Spice, sweet
pickling spice and of certain curry powders, especially those of Sri Lanka. In India it is an ingredient of mukhwas, a ‘chew’ to aid digestion and sweeten the breath. Spicy Italian sausages, both sweet and sharp, contain the seed. It can be used in meat loaves, in pickled shrimps and with mushrooms. It Italy it is used to impart a special flavor to dried figs. Several alcoholic drinks are flavored with fennel such as gin, aquavit and formerly, absinthe. A fennel tea – one teaspoon seeds to half pint of water infused—is a warming and refreshing drink.

Roots: The root can be thinly sliced and simmered in chicken stock until tender for a simple fennel soup, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Flowers: The clusters of lovely yellow flowers in late Summer and early Fall are beautiful as a garnish.

Fennel Pollen: Wild Fennel Pollen comes from Fennel flowers picked at full bloom.  The plants are then dried and the pollen sifted out, yielding an exquisite spice that has the aroma of fennel, but is sweeter and far more intense in flavor than the other parts of the plant.

Stir frying sliced Fennel and Yellowdock leaves

One teaspoon of fennel seed has 7 calories.  It provides 0.3g protein, 0.3 g fat, 1 g carbs, 24 mg calcium, 0.4 mg iron and 3 IU vitamin A

Fennel offers many healing gifts as a:  carminative (alleviates flatuence), diuretic (increases the flow of urine), stimulant, antispasmodic (relieves muscles spasms), anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation), aromatic (has a smell or aroma), expectorant (promotes secretion from the respiratory tract by coughing), aperitif (stimulates appetite), antiseptic (destroys or inhibits the multiplication and growth of micro-organisms), emmenagogue (helps menstral discharge), laxative (aids bowel evacuation), splenic (aids health of the spleen), vermifuge (expels worms), anti-microbial (in order for an herb to be considered anti-microbial it has to have all the anti properties: anti fungal, anti septic, anti viral, anti bacterial…), tonic (strengthens well being), calmative (pacifying and calming), stomachic (increases appetite), digestive (helps with the digestion process), vaso-motorial (even after searching the web I have no idea what this means), cardiac (pertaining to the heart), and galactagogue (increases the flow of milk)

All of the above is translated better with this paragraph I found on the web:.  Fennel ROCKS!

Fennels effects have a warming, respiring and loosening nature. It warms and stimulates the digestive organs, especially when they become sluggish. This relieves gas and headaches that are related to improper digestion. An excellent stomach and intestinal remedy for treating flatulence and colic conditions, while also stimulating healthy appetite and digestion. Fennel frees the respiratory system, rendering a calming antispasmodic effect on coughs and bronchitis. It gives a delicious flavor and aromatic lift to herbal blends and cough syrups. Helpful for cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy. To help with indigestion and gas, pour boiling water over crushed fennel seeds (1 tsp seed to a pt of water). The seeds are simmered in syrups for coughs, shortness of breath, and wheezing. The leaves and seeds when boiled with barley increase breast milk. The seeds and root help clean the liver, spleen, gallbladder, and blood. The tea and broth of this herb are said to help in weight loss programs. Fennel oil mixed with honey can be taken for coughs, and the tea is used as a gargle. The oil is eaten with honey to allay gas and it is applied externally to rheumatic swellings. The seeds are boiled to make an eye wash for inflamed and swollen eyes. Use an infusion of the seeds as a gargle for gum disorders, loose teeth, laryngitis or sore throats.

 

1. Chewing the seeds makes a good breath freshener

2. The leaves are awesome for deep cleansing the pores with a face pack or facial steam treatment.

3. Infuse the leaves to make an herbal hair rinse.

4. Make eye lotion: place 1 oz of seed in a pan, cover with a pint of water and simmer for 20 minutes over low.  train and cool; pour into bottles, In an eye bath or appplied to the eyes with cotton balls, this win fusion will take away inflammation and give the eyse sparkle.

5. Russian scientists recently discvoered that one serving of Fennel a day can soothe even chronic cases of belly cramps, bloat and indigestion by 65% in just one week.

6. Fennel is said to be helpful to cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy

7. The tea and broth of this plant are said to help in weight loss

8. Use a strong Fennel tea as a gargle for gum disorders, loose teeth, laryngitis or sore throats.

9. Fennel increases the libido of both male and female rats.

10. Fennel has compounds that act like female hormone estrogen and has been usd for centuries to promote milk fow in nursing women.

11. Powdered Fennel seeds repels fleas from pets’ sleeping quarters.

Recipes courtesy Herbalpedia

Pasta Salad with Pepperoni and Fresh Fennel

The dressing: 2 tsp orange zest, 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1⁄4 tsp crushed red chile pepper 1⁄4 tsp fennel seeds 1⁄4 tsp brown sugar 4 Tbsp sherry vinegar 4 Tbsp olive oil
Combine the zest, mustard, red pepper, fennel seeds, and sugar; add the vinegar and mix well. Slowly whisk in the oil, and set aside

The Salad: 1 lb fresh fusilli pasta 1 tsp olive oil salt 1/ 4 cup olive oil 1 medium-size fennel bulb with tender stalks, chopped with foliage reserved 1 large onion, chopped 1/ 2 tsp fennel seeds 1/ 2 tsp crushed dried red chile pepper 2 medium-size red bell peppers, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 4 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 Tbsp chopped fresh fennel leaves salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 6 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan 2 oz thinly sliced pepperoni

Bring salted water to tolling boil with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add pasta; return to boil and cook 2 minutes. Drain in colander and set aside. Heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil, and sate the fennel bulb, onion, fennel seeds, and crushed red chile until onion pieces are slightly softened (about 5 minutes). Add the bell peppers and garlic; sauté briefly, just until peppers are slight soft. our sautéed vegetables over the pasta and mix well with the fresh herbs, adding salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss the pasta with the dressing. Add the freshly grated Parmesan and pepperoni, toss well. If made in advance, refrigerate and serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6. (The Herb Garden Cookbook)

Beet Salad
3⁄4 lb beet

Dressing: 3 Tbsp wine vinegar 1/3 cup olive oil 2 tsp sugar 1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds pinch of ground ginger 4 scallions, chopped salt

Cook the unpeeled beets in a pan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain, skin and cut in julienne strips. For the dressing, whisk together all the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over the beets and leave to stand for 1 hour for the flavors to blend before serving. (Cooking With Spices)

Fennel Potato Soup

Boil potatoes in bone broth stock, mash when cooked by using a blender, or potato masher

add 1/2 cup finely chopped Fennel stalk and leaves

2 scallions or wild onions thinly sliced

1 T chopped fresh parsley

Cook till heated through, garnish with Fennel flowers, or leaves

Fennel Ice Cream
1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons Fennel seeds crushed, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup sugar, divided 4 large egg yolks

Equipment: an ice cream maker

Bring cream and Fennel seeds just to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, then cover and let steep about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.
Whisk together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl, then add milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return mixture to medium saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, then quick-chill by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally until cool, about 15 minutes.

Strain Fennel cream through fine-mesh sieve into custard, pressing on solids. Continue to chill in ice bath until custard is very cold, then freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 1 hour.

Citrus Salad
2 oranges, 1 bag sweet baby lettuce, 1 small red onion peeled and sliced into rounds, 1 cup thinly sliced fennel

Dressing: 1⁄4 cup prepared olive-oil vinaigrette 2 Tbsp orange juice 1 Tbsp orange zest

Peel and cut 1 orange into rounds; zest and juice remaining orange. Arrange lettuce on serving platter. Top with orange rounds, the red onion and fennel. Whisk dressing ingredients together until blended and drizzle over salad.

Fennel-Apple Cheese Salad
2 medium Fennel bulbs, 3 firm apples, cored, thinly sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice, 1⁄4 lb firm cheese of choice, rind removed and cubed 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or pecans) 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise 5 Tbsp orange juice salt and black pepper to taste

Cut Fennel bulbs in half lengthwise. Trim green feathery leaves and reserve them for garnish. Thinly slice Fennel and put in serving bowl. Add apple slices, cheese cubes and nuts.

In separate small bowl combine mayonnaise, orange juice, salt and pepper. Spoon over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Garnish salad with reserved Fennel leaves. (The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks)

Stinging Nettle

One small patch of Stinging Nettle!

Stinging Nettle

Botanical Name: Urtica dioica

Family:  Urticacea

Common Names: The Monster of the Woodlands

Bristly herb with few branches. Has a height from 3-6 feet and a width of 2-3 feet.  Even a slight pressure releases fluid from a capsule at the base of each hollow stinger hair.  Handle with CARE!
leaf: oval, coming to a point, deeply serrated around the edge, downy covered with stinging hairs to 6 inches long.

flower: The flowers are small, white, loosely clustered.

Blooms from June to September

Leaf: Early Spring before plant flowers  As the plant matures through the Summer it not only gets tougher and older, it developes cystoliths in the leaves, which are irritating to the kidneys. Often, when you are eating wild “greens,” they are harvested in the earlier part of the season.

Seeds: collect these after they flower for medicinal uses and serious nutritional benefit

Stinging Nettle likes to grow in moist areas along streams and in woodlands.

Using gloves and long sleeves break off top 2 brackets of early Spring leaves.  Do not eat dried Nettles raw.  You can try turning raw leaves in on themselves and crushing the stingers thus rendering them inactive and harmless.  The formic acid (the stinging part) dissipates when you cook it or dry it or put it in vinegar or oil to infuse.

Stinging nettles are one of the most nutritious plants on the planet

Per 1/2 cup

Nettle is extremely high in protein, iron and Vit C, E, A

 

 

1. In the United Kingdom an annual Stinging Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (20 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighbouring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.

 

Remember, nettle does sting so consider wearing long pants, long sleeves, and gloves when you harvest. Pick the top leaves, bending the stem and finding its natural break point. (The number of leaves will vary with the size of the plant.) If you take only the tops, you leave your nettle patch healthy and growing so that you can harvest again and again until the plants begin to flower.
You want to have your nettle harvest completed by the time the flowers appear, so pick plenty. Cook some and dry the rest (lying them out on screens in a dry place out of direct sunlight, or putting them in a dehydrator on low) for future use.
When I think of our family’s herbal medicine chest, stinging nettle definitely figures prominently within it, though you might not recognize our use of it as medicinal. Nettle provides deep, herbal nourishment. Its leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals and they are a great source of protein.
We start picking nettle leaves when the first plants are about 4 inches tall, and integrate them into our diet right away. Those first leaves give our bodies a wonderful boost to help with our transition from the dark, still winter into light and busy spring.
As I’ve apprenticed herbalism over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that using medicines to treat a particular ailment is only a small part of maintaining health. Nourishing, healing herbs have become part of our family’s regular diet, helping us to continually build and maintain our health so that we don’t catch the bugs that are circulating through our community, and our bodies are able to heal quickly when necessary.
To make a nourishing nettle soup, sauté onions and carrots briefly in a soup pot. Add potatoes and chopped nettles (leaves and tender stems). Add stock or water to cover the vegetables and simmer about twenty minutes. Add tamari or soy sauce to taste. This soup is a staple spring food at our house, and during my pregnancies it easily boosted my iron levels so that I didn’t need a supplement.
I also drank nettle infusions throughout my pregnancy and the first couple of years after giving birth. Infusions are basically very strong teas. To make one, put one ounce of dried herbs into a quart jar (get bulk dried nettle by thge pound here) and pour enough boiling water over them to fill the jar. Cap it and let it sit for at least four hours. Strain it and drink it at your preferred temperature (warmed, chilled, or as is).
I am in the habit of making and drinking an infusion every day. I start the infusion steeping while I’m making breakfast, and usually drink it with my dinner.  I think of it as my daily multi-vitamin. Because I’m drinking it as a tea, my body is able to easily assimilate the nutrients.
Now that I’m past the childbearing part of my life, I find myself adding nettle to my infusions when I’m feeling particularly tired or worn out. The beautiful deep green color and earthy smell connect me immediately to the healing green world, and I relish the taste and the feeling of energy and health in my belly and body.
–Kimberly

Stinging nettle or common nettle, Urtica dioica, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica. The plant has many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on its leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles that inject histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals.[1] The plant has a long history of use as a medicine and as a food source.

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[edit] Description

Stinging nettle is a dioecious herbaceous perennial, 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall in the summer and dying down to the ground in winter. It has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow as are the roots. The soft green leaves are 3 to 15 cm (1 to 6 in) long and are borne oppositely on an erect wiry green stem. The leaves have a strongly serrated margin, a cordate base and an acuminate tip with a terminal leaf tooth longer than adjacent laterals. It bears small greenish or brownish numerous flowers in dense axillary inflorescences. The leaves and stems are very hairy with non-stinging hairs and also bear many stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT or serotonin, and possibly formic acid.[2][3] This mixture of chemical compounds cause a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives its common name, as well as the colloquial names burn nettle, burn weed, burn hazel.

[edit] Taxonomy

The taxonomy of stinging nettles has been confused, and older sources are likely to use a variety of systematic names for these plants. Formerly, more species were recognised than are now accepted. However, there are at least five clear subspecies, some formerly classified as separate species:

  • U. dioica subsp. dioica (European stinging nettle). Europe, Asia, northern Africa.
  • U. dioica subsp. galeopsifolia (fen nettle or stingless nettle). Europe. (Sometimes known as Urtica galeopsifolia)
  • U. dioica subsp. afghanica. Southwestern and central Asia. (Gazaneh in Iran)
  • U. dioica subsp. gansuensis. Eastern Asia (China).
  • U. dioica subsp. gracilis (Ait.) Selander (American stinging nettle). North America.
  • U. dioica subsp. holosericea (Nutt.) Thorne (hairy nettle). North America.

Other species names formerly accepted as distinct by some authors but now regarded as synonyms of U. dioica include U. breweri, U. californica, U. cardiophylla, U. lyalli, U. major, U. procera, U. serra, U. strigosissima, U. trachycarpa, and U. viridis. Other vernacular names include tall nettle, slender nettle, California nettle, jaggy nettle, burning weed, fire weed and bull nettle (a name shared by Cnidoscolus texanus and Solanum carolinense).

[edit] Distribution

D. urticaria: close-up of the defensive hairs

Stinging nettles are abundant in northern Europe and much of Asia, usually found in the countryside. It is less gregarious in southern Europe and north Africa, where it is restricted by its need for moist soil. In North America it is widely distributed in Canada and the United States, where it is found in every province and state except for Hawaii and also can be found in northernmost Mexico. It grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest, especially in places where annual rainfall is high. In North America the stinging nettle is far less common than in northern Europe. The European subspecies has been introduced into North America as well as South America.

In the UK stinging nettles have a strong association with human habitation and buildings. The presence of nettles may indicate that a building has been long abandoned. Human and animal waste may be responsible for elevated levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the soil, providing an ideal environment for stinging nettles.

[edit] Ecology

The Nettle Pouch Gall Dasineura urticae on Urtica dioica

Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterfly, such as the Peacock Butterfly[4] or the Small Tortoiseshell, and are also eaten by the larvae of some moths including Angle Shades, Buff Ermine, Dot Moth, The Flame, The Gothic, Grey Chi, Grey Pug, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Mouse Moth, Setaceous Hebrew Character and Small Angle Shades. The roots are sometimes eaten by the larva of the Ghost Moth Hepialus humuli.

[edit] Medicinal uses

Detail of flowering stinging nettle.

Detail of immature fruits of stinging nettle.

As Old English Stiðe, nettle is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century. Nettle is believed to be a galactagogue[5] and a clinical trial has shown that the juice is diuretic in patients with congestive heart failure[citation needed].

Urtication, or flogging with nettles, is the process of deliberately applying stinging nettles to the skin in order to provoke inflammation. An agent thus used is known as a rubefacient (something that causes redness). This is done as a folk remedy for rheumatism, providing temporary relief from pain.[citation needed] The counter-irritant action to which this is often attributed can be preserved by the preparation of an alcoholic tincture which can be applied as part of a topical preparation, but not as an infusion, which drastically reduces the irritant action.

Extracts can be used to treat arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and pain.[citation needed]

Nettle leaf is a herb that has a long tradition of use as an adjuvant remedy in the treatment of arthritis in Germany. Nettle leaf extract contains active compounds that reduce TNF-α and other inflammatory cytokines.[6][7] It has been demonstrated that nettle leaf lowers TNF-α levels by potently inhibiting the genetic transcription factor that activates TNF-α and IL-1B in the synovial tissue that lines the joint.[8]

Nettle is used in shampoo to control dandruff and is said to make hair more glossy, which is why some farmers include a handful of nettles with cattle feed.[9] It is also thought nettles can ease eczema.

Nettle root extracts have been extensively studied in human clinical trials as a treatment for symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These extracts have been shown to help relieve symptoms compared to placebo both by themselves [10] and when combined with other herbal medicines.[11]

Because it contains 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran, certain extracts of the nettle are used by bodybuilders in an effort to increase free testosterone by occupying sex-hormone binding globulin[12]

Fresh nettle is used in folk remedies to stop bleeding because of its high Vitamin K content. Meanwhile, in dry U. dioica, the Vitamin K is practically non-existent and so is used as a blood thinner.

[edit] Food

A young red-tinted variety of American stinging nettle.

Stinging nettle has a flavour similar to spinach when cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce.[13] Soaking nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging. After Stinging Nettle enters its flowering and seed setting stages the leaves develop gritty particles called “cystoliths”, which can irritate the urinary tract.[13] In its peak season, stinging nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable.[14] The young leaves are edible and make a very good pot-herb. The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a tisane, as can also be done with the nettle’s flowers.

Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto and purée[15]. Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern and Eastern Europe. In Nepal and the Kumaon region of Northern India, Stinging Nettle is known as Shishnu. It is a very popular vegetable and cooked with Indian spices.

Nettles are sometimes used in cheese making, for example in the production of Yarg[16] and as a flavouring in varieties of Gouda.[17]

[edit] Competitive eating

In the UK, an annual Stinging Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (20 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighbouring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.[18][19]

[edit] Drink

Nettle cordial is a soft drink made largely from a refined sugar and water solution flavoured with the leaves of the nettle.[citation needed] Historically it has been popular in North Western Europe; however, versions of a nettle cordial recipe can be traced back to Roman times.[citation needed] It is an aromatic syrup, and when mixed with sparkling water, is very refreshing.

Nettle leaves are steeped in a concentrated sugar solution so the flavour is extracted into the sugar solution. The leaves are then removed and a source of citric acid (usually lemon juice) is added to help preserve the cordial and add a tart flavour.

Commercially produced cordials are generally quite concentrated and are usually diluted by one part cordial to ten parts water – thus a 0.5 litres (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 US gal) bottle of cordial would be enough for 5.5 litres (1.2 imp gal; 1.5 US gal) diluted. The high concentration of sugar in nettle cordial gives it a long shelf life.

There are also many recipes for alcoholic nettle beer, which is a countryside favourite in the British Isles.[20]

[edit] Nettle sting treatment

A hand with a large sting, with visible bumps on the skin.

Anti-itch drugs, usually in the form of creams containing antihistaminics or hydrocortisone[citation needed] may provide relief from the symptoms of being stung by nettles. But due to the combination of chemicals involved other remedies may be required. Calamine lotion may be helpful. Many folk remedies exist for treating the itching including horsetail (Equisetopsida spp.), leaf of dock (Rumex spp.), Jewelweed, (Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida), the underside of a fern (the spores), mud, saliva, or baking soda, oil and onions, and topical use of milk of magnesia.

[edit] Influence on language and culture

Urtica dioica from Thomé, Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885.

In Great Britain the stinging nettle is the only common stinging plant and has found a place in several figures of speech in the English language. Shakespeare‘s Hotspur urges that “out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety” (Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3). The figure of speech “to grasp the nettle” probably originated from Aesop‘s fable “The Boy and the Nettle”.[21] In Sean O’Casey‘s Juno and the Paycock one of the characters quotes Aesop “Gently touch a nettle and it’ll sting you for your pains/Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains“. The metaphor may refer to the fact that if a nettle plant is grasped firmly rather than brushed against, it does not sting so readily, because the hairs are crushed down flat and do not penetrate the skin so easily.[22] In the German language, the idiom “sich in die Nesseln setzen”, or to sit in nettles, means to get into trouble.

[edit] Textiles

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. The fibres are coarser however.[23]

In recent years a German company has started to produce commercial nettle textiles.

Nettles may be used as a dye-stuff, producing yellow from the roots, or yellowish green from the leaves.[24]

[edit] Gardening

As well as the potential for encouraging beneficial insects, nettles have a number of other uses in the vegetable garden.

The growth of stinging nettle is an indicator that an area has high fertility (especially phosphorus) and has been disturbed.[25][26]

Nettles contain a lot of nitrogen and so are used as a compost activator[27] or can be used to make a liquid fertiliser which although somewhat low in phosphate is useful in supplying magnesium, sulphur and iron.[28][29] They are also one of the few plants that can tolerate, and flourish in, soils rich in poultry droppings.

Recent experiments have shown that nettles may have some use as a companion plant.[30]

Stinging nettle can be a troubling weed, and mowing can increase plant density.[31] Regular and persistent tilling will greatly reduce its numbers, the use of herbicides such as 2,4-D and Glyphosate, are effective control measures.[31]