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Nettle, small, raw (stinging nettle, organic?)

The small stinging nettle (stinging nettle) is rich in vitamin C when raw. It is rarer than the large stinging nettle. Organic quality?
The information we compiled for this ingredient complies with the standards ofthe USDA database.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 42.55%
Macronutrient proteins 51.64%
Macronutrient fats 5.8%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 0.2g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.2g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 1:1

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Here, essential linolenic acid (LA) 0.17 g to essential alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 0.18 g = 0.93:1.
Ratio Total omega-6 = 0.17 g to omega-3 fatty acids Total = 0.18 g = 0.93:1.
On average, we need about 2 g of LA and ALA per day from which a healthy body also produces EPA and DHA, etc.

The small stinging nettle ( Urtica urens ) is Raw, it is a tasty addition to soups, sauces and smoothies. Like the common nettle ( Urtica dioica ), it is a medicinal plant with a long tradition of use. It is often found dried in organic quality.

Use in the kitchen

Nettles are a traditional wild vegetable. The small nettle with its slightly sour to nutty aroma harmonizes particularly well with other wild herbs such as dandelions , wild garlic or sorrel . In the kitchen, no distinction is made between the small and large nettle and they are used in the same way.

The raw leaves and stems are highly irritating. The small nettle (stinging nettle) is even more irritating than the widespread large nettle (hemp nettle). To avoid the unpleasant effects of the nettle hairs, you can wrap the washed nettle leaves in a cloth and roll them with a rolling pin. Alternatively, you can blanch the leaves (a few seconds is enough), boil them or dry them.

Fresh, young leaves (harvest time from May to August) can be used raw as an ingredient in salads, wild herb smoothies or finely chopped in herb butter. Typical "nettle dishes" are nettle soup , spaetzli and pesto. Nettle can be prepared in a similar way to spinach and also tastes delicious in a filling for a tart or in a risotto. You can also make nettle tea from fresh or dried leaves.

Nettle juice is pressed from the whole herb (stems and leaves). The seeds (July to October) are used as sprouting seeds or as an ingredient in dough, herb butter and cheese. Nettle roots are also used; they are dug up in spring or autumn and dried to make tea and infusions.

Vegan recipe for nettle-ribwort plantain soup

Ingredients (for 2 people): 30 g ribwort plantain leaves (about two small bunches), 30 g nettle leaves (about four handfuls), 1 onion , 1 tbsp rapeseed oil , 4 potatoes , 1 l vegetable stock without salt , 8 tbsp oat cream , salt ,black pepper .

Preparation: Wash the ribwort and nettle leaves and drain well. Peel and dice the onion and potatoes. Chop the ribwort. Put the onions in a pan with rapeseed oil and sauté briefly. Add the potatoes and after 2-3 minutes add the vegetable stock and herbs. Let the soup cook for ten minutes. Mix in the soy cream and season with salt and pepper.


To make the , pour 250 ml of boiling water over two heaped teaspoons of dried organic nettle leaves. After letting it brew for 5 minutes, strain the brew and drink the tea lukewarm in small sips. 1

You can find a recipe for nettle tea HERE .

Vegan recipes with stinging nettle can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Purchasing - Storage

Major retailers such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Spar , Rewe , Edeka or Billa as well as organic supermarkets such as Denn's Biomarkt and Alnatura sometimes offer organic tea or tea blends with nettle leaves. In supermarket chains such as Volg , Aldi , Hofer and Lidl , conventional or organic products with nettles are rarely found in the standard range.

You can buy products containing nettle herb in pharmacies, drugstores, health food stores or online. You can also find nettle extracts as food supplements (capsules, extracts, dragees), fresh plant juice and loose tea (also in raw quality). Fresh young nettles can sometimes be obtained from a specialised greengrocer, at the weekly market, online or directly from the farmer, e.g. via a subscription box / seasonal box / green box. Alternatively, you can also collect them in the wild.

The availability of the small nettle varies depending on the size of the store, catchment area, etc. Our recorded food prices for the DA-CH countries can be found above under the ingredient image - and by clicking on them you can see their development at different suppliers.

Found in the wild

While the common nettle (Urtica dioica ) is a well-known weed that thrives on nutrient-rich soils, the small nettle ( Urtica urens ) is rare. 7 It is mainly found in areas with ruderal vegetation, such as the edges of ditches, rubble sites and wasteland. It can also be found in gardens or on fences. 1,7

Storage tips

Freshly picked nettle leaves are best stored in an airy place, e.g. in a linen bag or basket. The fresh leaves are delicate. If possible, they should be used within five hours. 2

Carefully dried leaves can be stored in a dry, light-protected container.

Ingredients - Nutritional values - Calories

100 g of small nettles (raw) have an energy content of 33 kcal. They are high in protein and fiber. Nettles contain 5.3 g of protein and 3.1 g of dietary fiber per 100 g. This corresponds to 10.7% and 12.4% of the daily requirement. They have very little fat (0.60 g/100g) and few carbohydrates (4.4 g). 3

Raw nettles are rich in vitamin C (333 mg/100 g). Fresh herbs with a high content of ascorbic acid are garlic mustard (261 mg/100 g) and lemon verbena (176 mg/100 g), as well as wild garlic (150 mg/100 g). 11

Calcium is also present in abundance. The 713 mg/100 g correspond to 89% of the daily requirement. This makes nettle a better source of calcium than fresh herbs such as thyme (405 mg), cow parsley (400 mg) or winter savory (349 mg). 11

The small nettle also contains large amounts of manganese , vitamin A (as RAE) , and iron . They also contain tryptophan and threonine , both of which are essential amino acids. 3

You can find all the ingredients of the small stinging nettle, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health effects

The stinging nettle contains secondary plant substances, including phenolic compounds, flavonoids (eg quercetin) and tannins. 9,10 These bioactive substances have health-promoting effects.

Phenolic compounds act as antioxidants. The phenol content of Urtica urens is lower than that of the large stinging nettle Urtica dioica , which is why the antioxidant effect is less. However, the small stinging nettle has a more anti-inflammatory effect than Urtica dioica . 9

Alcohol extracts from the stinging nettle have an antibacterial effect in vitro . This effect could not be observed in water-based extracts. 10

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects

Contact with fresh nettles causes pain and can, in exceptional cases, lead to severe allergic reactions in sensitive people. The stinging hairs consist of two parts and contain a cell sap that consists of sodium formate, acetylcholine and histamine, among other things. When touched, the upper part of the stinging hair breaks off and the cell sap contained therein is injected into the skin. This immediately causes pain and initially pale, later red, very itchy wheals (swellings) form. 8

What can you do against a nettle sting? After washing the area with cold water, you should cool it to reduce the pain. For example, you can use a damp cloth, a cold pack or ice cubes wrapped in a thin cloth.

It is not advisable to consume nettle leaves without prior treatment (rolling, blanching, cooking, drying) as this can lead to severe allergic reactions and pain in the mouth. 4

Studies in animal models show that extracts from nettle seeds can influence the effect of drugs administered at the same time. 5 Interactions when using nettle tea or the leaves and seeds in cooking are not known.

Anyone who suffers from water retention as a result of impaired heart or kidney function should not consume nettle tea, tinctures and juice. The diuretic effect of nettle can overwhelm these organs. 1

Use as a recognized medicinal plant

The HMPC ( Expert Committee of the European Medicines Agency ) has classified the small nettle ( Urtica urens ) together with the large nettle ( Urtica dioica ) as a herbal medicinal product (traditional use). 12

It is used to increase the amount of urine, to flush the urinary tract and to help with mild urinary tract problems. It also helps with mild joint pain and is used as a herbal remedy for seborrhoeic dermatitis. 12

Folk medicine - natural healing

Nettle tea is traditionally used for rheumatism, gout, digestive problems, liver and gallbladder problems and generally to stimulate the body's metabolism. The tea has a slight diuretic effect. It should only be used to support the kidneys if there is no restricted kidney function. Tea made from nettle roots is used for certain prostate problems. 1,2

Ecological footprint - animal welfare

Despite extensive research, we have found hardly any essential information/data/figures on the ecological footprint of the small stinging nettle.

As a rule, it can be assumed that nettles are a climate-friendly food. One study compared the CO 2 footprint of nettles (without specifying the species) with their nutritional value. To cover 1⁄3 of the daily macronutrient requirement with nettles, this portion of nettles would only produce 138 g of CO₂. Only a few foods, such as butternut squash, have a smaller footprint. 13

The 'footprint' of a food product depends on various factors. The type of agricultural production (conventional vs. organic), average vs. seasonal vs. regional production, domestic production vs. import by truck, ship or plane, different types of packaging and whether the product is fresh or frozen all play a decisive role.

Detailed explanations of various sustainability indicators (such as ecological footprint, CO2 footprint, water footprint ) can be found here .

Animal welfare - species protection

Researchers investigated the potential of the nettle as a crop, but the common nettle . We still use this study to give an impression of the ecological relationships of the nettle in general. In addition to the many uses of the plant, it also offers environmental benefits. The cultivation and propagation of the plant using organic methods works particularly well. The common nettle also promotes biodiversity by serving as a food plant and as a habitat for beneficial insects. 14,15 Nettles ( Urtica dioica and Urtica urens ) are food and nesting plants for a variety of butterflies. 16

In Japan, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, China, Uruguay and Prague, the small nettle ( Urtica urens) is on the list of invasive plants. In these regions of the world, the small nettle can disrupt ecosystems and displace natural vegetation. In addition, the small nettle is also a competitive weed. Once established in vegetable fields, a large, persistent seed bank is formed and populations can multiply rapidly. 17

Worldwide occurrence - cultivation

The original distribution area of the small stinging nettle ( Urtica urens ) is unknown. Nettles are now found almost worldwide, although the small stinging nettle is found mainly in the northern hemisphere. 9

Although the small nettle has a much lower yield than the large nettle , it is cultivated for therapeutic purposes because of its stronger stinging effect. 7

Cultivation - Harvest

Nettles are easy to grow in the garden. They are less suitable for growing in pots. Nettles grow on all types of soil, but prefer soil that is rich in nutrients and humus and should be slightly moist. It should be noted that nettles spread quickly, which is why they are often referred to as "weeds". 6

The small nettle is an annual plant and only reproduces by seed. It is monoecious, meaning that the inflorescences have both stamen and pistil flowers. 7 Direct sowing is possible from March to May. 6

The leaves are to be harvested before flowering in May to July. The flowers are small, greenish, arranged in hanging spikes. The light, young leaves and flowers are tender and contain less nitrate than the older, dark green leaves. 1.6

Further information

The small stinging nettle ( Urtica urens ) belongs to the genus of stinging nettle ( Urtica ), as does the common common stinging nettle ( Urtica dioica ) . There is also pill nettle ( Urtica pilulifera ) and marsh nettle ( Urtica Kioviensis ), which are very rare, however. 1

The annual, delicate little nettle reaches heights of 10-60 cm. Its oppositely arranged leaves are barely longer than five centimeters and are light green. The leaf blade is elliptically pointed and the leaf edge is serrated. 7

As an annual field weed, the small stinging nettle is rarely found in modern agriculture. In some cases it is even considered vulnerable or even endangered. In contrast to the large stinging nettle, the small stinging nettle has not (yet) been cultivated. 7

Alternative names

The small stinging nettle ( Urtica urens ) is also known as the stinging nettle. It is incorrectly referred to as a small stinging nettle (with only two instead of three "n"). However, the word comes from Brenn-Nessel.

English names for the small nettle are nettle-less, annual nettle, dwarf nettle, small nettle, dog nettle and burning nettle.

Other uses

Nettle liquid manure is a highly effective organic plant strengthener and fertilizer and is easy to make. 2 The leaves can also be used as mulch. This is said to keep snails away and suppress weeds. 6