“In some parts of the world you can sleep between nettle sheets, eat off a nettle tablecloth, dine in nettle-enriched steaks and eggs ordered from a nettle-paper menu, in an emergency fish with a nettle line, and in the springtime especially revel with delectable nettle dishes washed down with nettle beer. In fact, this is only a portion of this wild edible’s capabilities”. ~ Angier
Nettle is among those plants – beside bamboo, eucalyptus, cedar and Indian lotus – in the world that has several areas of use. It is not only a common herb that you can make tea of, but nettle kept generations alive and healthy by providing food, drink, paper, clothes and other equipment for surviving in the wild (e.g. fishing net).
Prehistoric textiles were made of nettle, started to spread in the Bronze Age and were popular again during the World Wars, mostly because it was the only available material for clothes. It was widely presumed that production of plant fiber textiles in ancient Europe, especially woven textiles for clothing, was closely linked to the development of agriculture. Researchers discovered that ancient people were conscious users of wild plants too, they not only used cultivated flax and hemp to make clothes. They even trade nettle textiles in the continent. The nettle cloth found in Denmark – tells a surprising story about long-distance Bronze Age trade connections around 800 BC – was made in Austria.
The royals favoured the finest nettle in their clothes and home textiles, the use of which was forbidden from the rest of the citizens! The nettle fibres were a highly respected fibres among the people.
Today, the world population is on increase, but land doesn’t. The demand for sustainable textiles is increasing, which is great news. By converting nettle stalks into a linen-like fabric, some companies have started to create an eco-fabric out of natural rather than synthetic materials and employ thousands of artisans across the globe. Their project has benefits beyond the current generation. With the success in nettle eco-fiber production, they will reduce the need for conventional fiber and in turn the amount of greenhouse gases produced during conventional fiber production.