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Urtica holosericea - Nutt.

Common Name Stinging Nettle
Family Urticaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The leaves of the plants have stinging hairs, causing irritation to the skin[21, 200]. This action is neutralized by heat so the cooked leaves are perfectly safe and nutritious[200]. However, only young leaves should be used because older leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths which act as an irritant to the kidneys[172].
Habitats Low damp places below 2700 metres in California, it is occasionally also found on desert edges[71]. Alluvial woods, margins of deciduous or mixed woodlands, fencerows, waste places; 0-3100 m[270].
Range Western N. America - Washington to California.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Urtica holosericea Stinging Nettle


Urtica holosericea Stinging Nettle

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Urtica holosericea is a PERENNIAL growing to 2.5 m (8ft 2in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Drink

Young leaves - cooked[172, 257]. 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[200].

Medicinal Uses

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Alterative  Antiasthmatic  Antidandruff  Antispasmodic  Expectorant

The leaves are alterative, antiasthmatic, antidandruff, antispasmodic and expectorant[172]. A poultice of the mashed plant has been used to ease the pain of headaches, pains in the neck, sores etc[257]. The fresh leaves of nettles have been rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism etc[257]. 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.

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Other Uses

Compost  Dye  Fibre  Hair  Liquid feed  Repellent

A hair wash can be made from the leaves and this is used as a tonic and antidandruff treatment[172]. A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems[200, 257]. Used for making string and cloth[4, 46, 61, 123], it also makes a good quality paper[115]. It is harvested as the plant begins to die down in early autumn and is retted before the fibres are extracted[4, 99]. 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[4]. An oil obtained from the seeds is used as an illuminant[4]. An essential ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator[32]. 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[12, 18, 20] and they can be soaked for 7 - 21 days in water to make a very nutritious liquid feed for plants[54]. This liquid feed is both insect repellent and a good foliar feed[14, 18, 53]. The growing plant increases the essential oil content of other nearby plants, thus making them more resistant to insect pests[18, 20, 54]. 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[4]. 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[4]. This same juice, if rubbed into small seams of leaky wooden tubs, will coagulate and make the tub watertight again[4]. A beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems[4, 115]. A yellow dye is obtained from the root when boiled with alum[4, 115].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

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[200]. The best fibre is produced when plants are grown on deep fertile soils[200]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

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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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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