Nettles
 

  Be Nice to Nettles Week
  a CONE initiative
Nettles
 
“Stinging nettles give us an insight into both the capacity for nature to flourish even in some of the hardest urban conditions, and how plants are essential in providing us with some of the neccessities of life.

Not only do they provide excellent food for some butterflies and moths, but we can make tea from their leaves, use them as dyes, and once stung we will never forget their power to protect - as good a piece of environmental education as any.”

Mathew Frith
Urban Advisor, English Nature

 

 
 
 

Clothing from nettles

Ouch! you may be thinking but the nettle has been used to produce a fine fibre that can be spun and woven into cloth.

Cloth has been woven from the fibres in mature nettle stems for many centuries - frequently used for tablecloths and sheets in Scotland. It is, however, difficult to ascertain the extent to which it was used as the term nettlecloth came to be used for all manner of fine material whether made from nettle or not.

Being similar in texture to those materials produced by flax and hemp fibres the cloth also became widely used by the German army during the First World War when there was a shortage of cotton for the soldiers' uniforms. Some of the reports may have been propaganda but is clear that nettle fibre was used alongside that of the nettles' Asian cousin, Ramie ( Boehmeria nivea ).

The juice of the stems and leaves has been used to produce a permanent green dye, while a yellow dye can be obtained from boiling the roots. Both colours have been used extensively in Russia.

 

 
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Did you know?
The Latin name of the nettle Urtica comes from the word 'uro' which means to burn!
 
 
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