Growing up in the Midwest I learned very quickly in my camping, fishing, and hiking excisions what stinging nettles where and avoided them as much as possible. I found them much easier to identify and avoid then poison ivy which I managed to get every summer for four years in my childhood. After those four years I learned my lesson and haven't had is since. But for all the effort I and others put into avoiding stinging nettles I never guessed some people would actually find them useful. In-fact, some people find them one of the most useful plants available. Weird but true.
In looking into this I came across the book "101 Uses for Stinging Nettles" by Piers Warren. The book is pretty interesting. Some of the more interesting uses in the book are: fertilizer, insecticides, tea, all kinds of food uses, fiber for rope and clothing, and numerous medical uses. A lot of these 101 uses are folk lore but a lot are also based on actual uses that have been around for centuries. The usefulness of this plant appears to me to be pretty amazing. The book prompted me to purchase nettle seeds which I will be planting in my garden this spring so I can test out a lot of these different uses. So in coming months, as the nettles grow, I will post the results for some of these nettle uses. I'll test them out to see if its true.
Here is an article on nettles I came across a while back. Apparently nettle ferments and new publications on nettles are somehow illegal in France (according to this article). Weird.
Here is another article on nettle ferments: Nettles to the rescue
|Stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica)|
|Stinging nettles typically grow in areas of very wet soil and form dense thickets like this.|