Common Name: Nettle, Tall|
Scientific Name: Urtica procera
Family Name: Nettle (Urticaceae)
Flower Color: Greenish
Habitat: Thickets and waste places
General Bloom Dates: June - September
Tall Nettle has fewer stinging hairs on the stem than the Stinging Nettle, but they still exist. Leaves are lance shaped at the top changing shape slightly as you progress towards the ground, with those near the base being somewhat heart shaped. The flowers are greenish in color, growing in slender, drooping clusters from the axils of the leaves.
Nettles make you itch when you touch them because, the tiny hairs on the underside of the leaves act like little hypodermic needles. The chemical that is being introduced to your body is formic acid. The formic acid gets under your skin causing a temporary inflamation and itching sensation. Stinging nettle was once used as a cure for arthritis. The plant would be whipped across the sore joint and the formic acid would cause an increase in blood flow, temporarily helping the effected joint. This would be a cure for the truly desperate. Formic acid is the same chemical found in biting ants that cause the burning sensation when they bite.
People who have tried the nettle really enjoy the taste. You might be thinking, why would anyone eat a plant that causes a burning sensation? Well the formic acid is easily broken down in the cooking process. So if you are adventurous enough to try a nettle, make sure to cook it much like we do with spinach. The fibers of the nettle have also been used for spinning cloth or twining to make fishing nets. Others even make beer and pudding out of the nettle plant.
Modern Uses of this Plant:
Nettles are a favorite of the Naturopathic Medicine providers. Nettles are high in calcium, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, absorbable amino acids and sulfur. They also provide a source of chlorophyll, tannin, Vitamin C, beta carotene and B-complex vitamins. With all that good stuff in them itŐs no wonder they help the body.
One study at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon found that 58% of hay fever suffers had moderate to high success in curing their hay fever when they were given freeze dried nettles. There is a long list of uses for the nettle in Naturopathic Medicine. It has been used from clotting blood to restoring kidney function, treating gout, increasing blood circulation and drinking nettle tea will even make your hair, thicker, shinier and brighter. There is even research going on in Germany to see what the effects of the nettle are for curing cancer. We often think of the nettle as a nuisance plant, but in reality it is a plant that can improve your outlook on life and quite possibly the quality of your life as well.