Stinging nettle

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The bast fibers obtained from the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica, Urtica ferox, or Urtica gracilis) plant. The stinging nettle, or great nettle, plant has been grown in Scandinavia for centuries and its fibers were used for making sails. The stinging nettle produced a light-color fibers that is soft and strong. It is used for Twine, Rope, Canvas, and Sailcloth. Nettle fibers are also used as substitutes for Flax and Hemp.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Urtica dioica; Urtica ferox; Urtica gracilis; great nettle; ortiga (Esp.)


The stems and leaves contain formic acid. It is a skin irritant and may produce a severe allergic reaction.

Resources and Citations

  • 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
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998