Stinging Nettle is more common in northern Europe than in southern Europe. To flourish, it needs damp conditions, and phosphate and nitrogen rich soils; conditions which are normally found near new and old settlements or animal habitats.
The leaves and stems are covered in hair. When touched the tips of the hairs break off, enter the skin and inject into the skin a mixture of chemicals, which include histamine, formic acid, serotonin and acetylcholine. These chemicals all have a role to play in the stinging sensation of nettles.
Flowers tiny, greenish catkins, female and male on separate plants.
Elliptic oval leaf, Cordate heart-shaped. Oval to heart-shaped, pointed, coarsely serrated, placed opposite on the stem, hairy, with stalks. Tiny leaf-like structures (stipules) at the point where the proper leaf emerges.
A cluster of 1-seeded fruit.
Leaves: Richer in minerals and vitamins than spinach or broccoli. Used in soups, stews and pancakes when leaves are young.
Leaves: draw minerals, including iron, from the soil, acting as a tonic for anaemia sufferers. The leaves have a cleansing effect on the blood, removing uric acid; also helpful in rheumatic and gout conditions.