Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica

Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is a perennial herbaceous plant, native of Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America, and is the best known and most widespread of the genus Urtica. It has hair that, when touched, expel a fluid that causes burning and itching in humans and animals.
The plant is known for its medicinal properties, for the preparation of dishes and, once again, for its extensive use in the textile field.

Systematic –
According to the Classification Cronquist, the Nettle dioica belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, the Kingdom Plantae, the Division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, Subclass Rosidae, Urticales Order, Urticaceae family, to the genus Urtica dioica and U. Species.

Etymology –
The nettle name probably derives from the Latin urere (Urtica), burn, indicating the effect of irritating substances contained in hair.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The U. dioica is widespread in Europe, most of Asia, North Africa and North America. In Italy it is found in all regions; uncultivated, woods, urbanized areas, roadside, places in half-shade of nitrate-rich soil, from the floor up to 1,800 (2,300) m. Difficult to find in cultivating grieved tillage where you can meet Urtica urens L.
It is usually found in fields and uncultivated land, preferring damp places rich in nitrogen, preferably shady, as the clearings of the woods, edges of rivers (especially polluted), around the ruins of houses. Alps is common in manure-fertilized fields.
Often it shares the same habitat with other herbs such as wormwood, mallow, elder and parietaria.

Description –
The nettle is a perennial herbaceous plant, deciduous, high among the 30 and 250 centimeters. It has an erect stem, densely hairy, striatum and, on top, fluted recently branched quadrangular section of a diameter of between 3 and 5 millimeters.
The plant also spreads through vigorous creeping rhizome, cable and much branched, from which new plants are born.
The leaves are large, ovate and opposite, lance-shaped, jagged and sharp, dark green on the upper side, lighter and hairy on the underside. The foil is long up to twice the stalk.
male flowers
As marked in the name, the U. dioica is a dioecious plant: female and male flowers are carried by distinct plants. The female flowers are collected in long hanging ears, while the male flowers are grouped in erect ears. Both have four tepals enclosing four stamens (the male flower) or the ovary (the female flowers).
By female flowers it develops an oval achene with a tuft of hairs at the apex, long up to 1.3 mm wide and up to 0.9 mm, which contains the seeds.

Cultivation –
The plants of the Urtica genus are used and cultivated by man since ancient times for the production of fibers, for their medicinal applications and for food preparation.
It is considered a weed difficult to find for sale in nurseries, but if you see it in some ditch or even better in your garden that grows thanks to the seeds carried by the wind, take the opportunity to cultivate it.
In addition to improving the population of beneficial insects, the presence of nettles in the garden boasts many other desirable functions.
The growth of nettles is a quite significant indicator of the high fertility of the soil, especially phosphorus and nitrates.
Nettles contain much nitrogen and therefore are used as an ingredient of the compost (at household level) or as a liquid fertilizer, which despite being poor in phosphates, it is still a good source of magnesium, sulfur and iron.
Nettles also includes one of the few plants that tolerate, even thrive, on manure-rich soils (which, in excess, prevents the development of the flora).
Recent experiments have shown that the nettles represent a beneficial flora to other cultivars due to their positive impact on micro and macro orchard fauna.
On the other hand, the nettle can become a weed and its mowing can drastically increase the population. Regular and persistent tillage (hoeing) can greatly reduce the number of specimens of nettle. See the cultivation card.

Customs and traditions –
The nettle has a long history in the textile field for the production of fibers, used for clothes, paper, towels, bags and ropes. Denmark were discovered burial shrouds, from the Bronze Age, products with nettle fiber. Industrial cultivation began in the 19th century, and during the First World War it was used in Europe as a substitute to cotton; but with the arrival of cheaper materials, the nettle cultivation ended after the second world war. Since the 90 textile factories in Austria, Germany, Latvia and Finland have started some research to resume production of nettle fabrics.
The woody stems of adult specimens are macerated, dehydrated and beaten, thus obtaining fibers that can be separated by hand to weave cloth (ramie) similar to hemp or flax.
The green leaves, which contain large amounts of chlorophyll, were used for the coloration of delicate fabrics.
U. dioica and other species of Nettle are used against arthritis since Ancient Egypt. Nettle medicinal uses are reported by Theophrastus, Pliny the Elder, Hippocrates and many ancient Greeks: the Roman soldiers, for example, used it to treat muscle fatigue and rheumatism. Different uses of the plant have been described on medical texts and botany, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Since ancient times enjoyed great prestige. Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528) painted an angel who flies to the throne of the Lord holding a nettle in hand. The Swiss pastor Künzle observes in his writings that the Nettle would already be eradicated if you do not defend that note, producing skin irritation to those who come in contact with. Insects and other animals would already have made disappear.
Applications exploit the stimulant and irritant properties of the hair, and include the treatment of anemia, rheumatism, arthritis, eczema, asthma, skin infections, intestinal pain, or are traditionally used as a shampoo for baldness, or against hemorrhoids and gout.
Modern studies prove the effectiveness of using medicine U. dioica and U. urens against arthritis, rheumatism, allergic rhinitis, urinary tract infections, cardiovascular problems and to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Nettles are used in the kitchen by the time of the Greeks and Romans throughout Europe, and are still a popular food in rural areas. The buds and the leaves still hold are harvested in the spring, before flowering. Cooking destroys the stinging hairs.
Stinging nettle contains a significant amount of minerals, such as calcium, iron and potassium, vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C), protein and amino acids, which make it a highly nutritious food which is suitable for example in vegetarian diets. The nutritional values ​​vary depending on the harvesting period and decrease with the preparation and cooking. It is not recommended for patients with diabetes, pregnant women or nursing mothers.
The leaves and buds are used in risotto, in soups, omelettes and pancakes; with nettles gets a pie ( “cake of herbs”) in the center-north of Italy, whereas in the Scandinavian countries is the main ingredient in a soup.
Agriculture in the macerate of U. dioica and U. urens is used in organic farming to keep out insects, prevent certain diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew, strengthen the resistance of plants and as mulch, to improve the quality of ‘humus.
The Nettle is one of the best medicinal plants that we have. If humanity knew quant ‘is great its healing power, she would not cultivate other.
Unfortunately, only very few people know it. The nettle is a medicinal from the root to the stem, the leaves until the flower.
The Nettle is our best medicinal plant purifying the blood and simultaneously anti-anemic. Having also a good influence on the pancreas, the tea nettle brings down the sugar content in the blood. also it heals diseases and infections of the urinary tract and pathological urine retention.
The infusion of nettle (prepared with the young shoots) is one of the oldest beverages. The flavor of this herbal tea the rest is not bad. You drink it without sugar. But people are a bit ‘delicate can also mix in a bit of chamomile or mint to improve the taste. Folk medicine recommends drinking nettle tea for a period of several weeks against liver disease and bile and against diseases of the spleen, even in tumors to the spleen, stomach and bronchial catarrh, in cramps and stomach ulcers , ulcers in the intestine and lung diseases. To retain the valuable active ingredients, the nettle is only burned. In preventive care, throughout the year, you drink one cup of herbal tea Nettle day. It proves a great help in eliminating bacterial and viral diseases.
From a certain age decreases the content of iron in the body. Consequently manifest states of fatigue and exhaustion, it feels old and less capable. In these cases it will lead to excellent results in the fresh dell’Ortica use which contains iron. It helps us to overcome this difficult situation. After a treatment based on Nettle is rapidly recuperating forces, return the energy and desire to work; even the external appearance improves.
Nell’idropisia Nettle helps through strong diuresis. Through its anti-anemic substances this enhances those who suffer from chlorosis, anemia, and other serious blood diseases. Along with other herbal medicines we need with dell’Ortica success in leukemia. Those who suffer from any allergies (such as hay fever), drink the tea for an extended period of Nettle.
The Nettle free from susceptibility to colds and gives relief in gouty and rheumatic diseases.
The tincture of nettle, easy to prepare yourself, scavandone in spring or autumn the roots, it is especially beneficial for any type of hair.

Preparation mode –
Scald a heaped dessert Nettle with 1/4 liter of water and let it rest for a short time.
Brush and chop the roots dug in spring or autumn and introduce them in a bottle to the neck. Versatavi above of a Spirit grain of 38-40 ° C it is left in a warm place. Four generous handfuls of well-washed and brushed and roots respectively of fresh nettle (stem and leaves) should be left to soak overnight in 5 liters of water and then heated to boiling. Soak the feet for 20 minutes at the highest temperature bearable. The Nettles remain in the water during the footbath. The solution can be reused, after it is heated again, other 2 or 3 times.
8 to 10 handfuls of fresh or dried nettle must be immersed in 5 liters of cold water and bring slowly to a boil over a low flame. Allow to rest for five minutes. By serving instead of the roots, you put two handfuls to soak in cold water for one night, the whole heated to boiling point the next day and then leaving to stand for 10 minutes.
Feeding, a widely used time, the nettle is slowly disappearing from our tables, perhaps because of the difficulty of retrieve it, for who does not live in the country, or because it is a bit ‘complicated to handle. Instead, the nettle is an excellent plant with a thousand virtues, rich, as seen, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, silicon as well as folic acid has diuretic and cleansing the body.
Nettle is harvested in the spring, using a pair of rubber gloves you collect the jets younger and more tender leaves.
Nettle lends itself to many preparations, can be boiled, shredded and used in omelets, soups, risottos or to prepare tasty dumplings enough in fact few minutes of boiling because it is no longer stinging.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Please note: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgici uses are indicated for information purposes only, do not represent in any way a medical prescription; it accepts no liability on their use for therapeutic purposes, cosmetic or food.

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