Nettles are a group of plants that grow almost all over the world. Only in Antarctica, there are no nettles. Of the many types of stinging nettles in Germany, the most common is the large stinging nettle and the small stinging nettle.
The leaves and stems of the plants are covered with stinging hairs, which are responsible for the pain and wheals when touched. For most people, stinging nettles are not dangerous, they just hurt. The stinging hairs are intended to prevent the plant from being eaten by animals. The caterpillars of about 50 species of butterflies only eat very specific species of stinging nettles.
What are nettles used for?
Also, some people eat nettles and say they taste similar to spinach. If you cut stinging nettles very small or pour hot water over them, the stinging hairs no longer work. The seeds are roasted to make them taste better. Dried nettle leaves can be used to make tea.
Nettles are also fed to animals in agriculture. Gardeners use water in which nettles have lain for some time. They use it to fertilize and strengthen plants.
Cloth has been made from the fibers of the stems of some species from the 18th century to the present day. The roots of stinging nettles were used to dye fabrics. The plant also plays a role in superstition: nettles are said to protect against magic or poverty.