Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Cooked they are used to make succulent “stews”, especially the one made with potato and cod. It usually breeds in humid and shady areas. In our locality it is easy to find it among pastures as long as the year has been generous in rainfall.

Harvesting: winter-spring


is a cosmopolitan herb of the Urticaceae family native to Europe. The best known characteristic of this plant is the presence of stinging hairs whose acidic liquid (formic acid) produces an intensely itchy skin irritation when touched or rubbed.

Stinging nettle is a herbaceous plant.
perennial, dioecious (with different plants for each sex), reaching 50 to 150 cm in height. It has a square section stem, oval leaves, with serrated edge, and small flowers.

It is characteristic of this plant to have stinging hairs that have the shape of tiny blisters filled with an irritating liquid. These, on contact with the skin, produce a lesion and spill their contents (formic acid, resin, histamine and an unknown protein substance) on the skin, causing hives, itching and pruritus. This itching is due to the action of formic acid, a compound of which it contains a large quantity. These hairs are very hard and fragile at the tip, so rubbing is enough to cause breakage.

The root is very rich in tannins, which give it an astringent action.

It has a reddish or yellowish stem, erect, quadrangular, branched and hollowed at the internodes. It is endowed at all nodes with pairs of leaves, and is covered with stinging hairs.

The leaves are oval-shaped, rough, serrated, pointed, and up to 15 cm long. They are dark green in color. They are opposite each other and are also provided, like the stem, with the hairs that characterize it.

It flowers from July onwards, depending on the region. The flowers are yellowish green with yellow stamens, gathered in pendulous, asillar and terminal panicles. They are usually unisexual, small and arranged in hanging racemes of up to 10 cm; and the females are found in long hanging catkins and the males in shorter inflorescences.

Its fruits are achenes (capsules) and dry.

The greater nettle is cosmopolitan, growing in high regions, and ranges from Japan to the Andes. In the Iberian Peninsula it is very abundant in the Cantabrian mountain range, although it can be found all over the country.

We can look for it in any place where humans or livestock live (it is said that it follows them). It breeds in soils rich in nitrogen and humid, in pens, in orchards, along roads, stone walls, in the field or in the mountains, etc.

Nettle is a species whose leaves were already cited in medieval treatises as a remedy for conditions associated with diuresis deficiency. However, for the last twenty years, its subway parts (roots and rhizomes) have been of interest in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as has been shown by the numerous research studies carried out on them. This research has made it possible to gain knowledge of its most important active principles and their action on some of the factors involved in the onset of BPH. On the other hand, the most recent clinical trials conducted with standardized nettle extracts indicate a positive effect on urinary symptoms associated with BPH. In addition, the preparations made from the subway parts are very well tolerated, since in six-month trials only 0.7 percent of the patients showed side effects, which were not serious in all cases.