Latin Name: Urtica dioica
The name nettle has Germanic origin; related to Dutch netel and German Nessel, English netle, netele. (Oxford) The name may refer to the small needles which cause the nettle’s sting, or from its use in net making.
Another extremely useful weed. Get past the sting and the young leaves can be eaten (once cooked). The root can be used to make dye and the stem can be used to make cloth and string (German soldiers uniforms were made of nettle fiber in world war I).
Historically we have been advised to grasp the nettle to avoid it’s sting
“Tender-handed stroke a nettle, And it stings you, for your pains: Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains.” (Aaron Hill c1750)
In our experience, however, we find that you grasp one bit of the nettle and get stung by another!
Modern research has discovered a number of possible beneficial effects of the nettle including anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties, positive effects for bladder and prostate disorders and even anti-diabetic properties. Not to mention the use of nettle to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.