There are several species of nettle, not all of which have stinging hairs. Most people, however, have suffered a nettle-sting at one time or another; and of those nettles that do sting, the common nettle and the Roman nettle are the best known. The latter has the most painful sting of all nettles.
The stinging action of nettle is very similar to the stinging cells in the tentacles of the sea anemone. It has a delicate, trigger- like coil in a cell, its sharp point being released on the slightest touch. The nettle-sting is developed from a single cell with the walls of the hair silicified, a small knob protects the fine point until touched when it breaks and allows the trigger to penetrate the skin. It is an acrid juice that causes irritation and, sometimes, inflammation of the skin.
If one is careful, however, to grasp the nettle in such a way that the hairs are pressed to the stem, they cannot pierce the skin, and the nettle can be plucked painlessly.
In many countries, boiled nettles have a special food value for pigs and pouluy. The roots boiled in alum produce a yellow dye, and the leaves and stalks give a green dye. The “ramie” (fibres) of different species of nettle are used to make lace, cloth, rope and yarn.
The nettles proper are annual or perennial herbs, sometimes with shrubby bases, and they make up the genus Urtica. Several trees of different genera, in particular the giant nettle of Australia, are given that name.
How Long Does A Nettle Sting Last?
This acid can redden the skin and cause a non-spreading rash that can last up to 24 hours. Remedies for this sting include a plant that often grows next to it called jewelweed.