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Plants from the family Urticaceae. Nettles have been cultivated for centuries in Europe and Asia as a source of fiber for ropes and sails. The best known fibers from nettle plants are Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), small nettle (Urtica urens), Giant nettle (Urtica ardens), and the Roman nettle (Urtica pilulifera). Nettle fibers are light-color, soft, and strong They are used for twine, rope, canvas and sailcloth. Nettle fibers are also used as substitutes for flax and hemp.

Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) is also in the nettle family.

Synonyms and Related Terms

brandnetel (Ned.); ortie (Fr.) Nessel (Deut.); ortica (It.); ortiga (Esp.)

Other Properties

Urtica dioica: fiber has small diameter and thick cell wall; similar to linen

Urtica urens: fiber has larger diamter with thin cell wall

Additional Information

  • G.Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:I. Natural Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984.
  • R.King, E.Hartley, "Unusual Fibers Used in Northwest Coast Ethnographic Textiles, Their Preparation & Their Structure", Technology & Conservation, 1/79.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Henry Hodges, Artifacts: An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology, Ronald P. Frye, Kingston, Canada, 1988
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, Phyllis G.Tortora, Robert S. Merkel (eds.), Fairchild Publications, New York City, 7th edition, 1996
  • Website address 1 Comment: For translations:

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