A colleague has just told me that it’s ‘Be Nice to Nettles Week’ – I know it may seem strange to celebrate the merits of such a commonplace plant but the humble nettle has many uses. I have sampled nettle soup and Cornish Yarg wrapped in nettles reputedly to encourage the cheese to ripen (although this also makes the cheese look very attractive). The leaves have a vast number of medicinal uses (once you’ve got beyond the sting!) whilst fibres from mature stems can be woven into cloth. Nettles are also a good source of natural dyes – green from the shoots and leaves and yellow from the roots.
A quick delve into CAB Abstracts revealed a huge 1080 records on Urtica dioica (an easy Latin name to remember as it really does ‘urt when you get stung!) with papers ranging from the use of nettles in medicinal teas and in pig feeds through to increasing biodiversity in your garden.