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Uses

Toxic parts

The leaves of the plants have stinging hairs, causing irritation to the skin[1][2]. This action is neutralized by heat so the cooked leaves are perfectly safe and nutritious[2]. However, only young leaves should be used because older leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths which act as an irritant to the kidneys[3].

Edible uses

Notes

Young leaves - cooked[3]. A very nutritious food, high in vitamins and minerals, it makes an excellent spinach substitute and can also be added to soups and stews. Only use the young leaves and wear stout gloves when harvesting them to prevent getting stung. Although the fresh leaves have stinging hairs, thoroughly drying or cooking them destroys these hairs. Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots[2].

Unknown part

Leaves

Material uses

A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems[2]. Used for making string and cloth, it also makes a good quality paper[4]. It is harvested as the plant begins to die down in early autumn and is retted before the fibres are extracted[5][6].

The following uses have been listed for U. dioica, but they are almost certainly also applicable to this species.

The plant matter left over after the fibres have been extracted are a good source of biomass and have been used in the manufacture of sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol[5]. An oil obtained from the seeds is used as an illuminant[5]. An essential ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator[7]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K]. The leaves are also an excellent addition to the compost heap[8][9][10] and they can be soaked for 7 - 21 days in water to make a very nutritious liquid feed for plants[11]. This liquid feed is both insect repellent and a good foliar feed[12][9][13]. The growing plant increases the essential oil content of other nearby plants, thus making them more resistant to insect pests[9][10][11]. Although many different species of insects feed on nettles, flies are repelled by the plant so a bunch of freshly cut stems has been used as a repellent in food cupboards[5]. The juice of the plant, or a decoction formed by boiling the herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milks and thus acts as a rennet substitute[5]. This same juice, if rubbed into small seams of leaky wooden tubs, will coagulate and make the tub watertight again[5]. A hair wash is made from the infused leaves and this is used as a tonic and antidandruff treatment[3][14]. A beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems[5][4].

A yellow dye is obtained from the root when boiled with alum[5][4].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The fresh leaves of nettles have been rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism etc[K]. This practice, called urtification, causes intense irritation to the skin as it is stung by the nettles. It is believed that this treatment works in two ways. Firstly, it acts as a counter-irritant, bringing more blood to the area to help remove the toxins that cause rheumatism. Secondly, the formic acid from the nettles is believed to have a beneficial effect upon the rheumatic joints.

Unknown part

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame, only just covering the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and plant them out in the summer. Division succeeds at almost any time in the growing season. Very easy, plant them straight out into their permanent positions.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Urtica serra. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.

Prefers a nitrogen-rich soil[2]. The best fibre is produced when plants are grown on deep fertile soils[2].

Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Urtica serra. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Urtica serra.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Urtica serra
Genus
Urtica
Family
Urticaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
?
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    x meters
    Fertility
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.32.42.52.62.7 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.23.33.4 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.3 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.35.45.55.65.75.8 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology. British Columbia Provincial Museum ISBN 0-7718-8117-7 (1979-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Bruce. M. E. Commonsense Compost Making. Faber ISBN 0-571-09990-4 (1977-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.3 Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds. Frederick Muller Ltd ISBN 0-584-10141-4 (1977-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden. ()
    14. ? 14.014.1 Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
    15. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-60
    16. ? Munz. A California Flora. University of California Press (1959-00-00)