The Nettle Plant

For a long time nettles were considered "useless weeds". New research shows, however, that the nettle plant spread almost all over the world is facing a renaissance as a renewable raw material for ecological and economic reasons.


The Great Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is an old crop, which was used in Europe as a medicinal plant and since the mid-19th century temporarily for industrial fiber production. The wild plant had to be developed for a profitable fiber production through breeding work to a cultivable plant - the fiber nettle. This work was carried out from 1927 to 1950 by G. Bredemann at the Institute of Applied Botany at the University of Hamburg.


Dreyer carried out experiments and research with fiber nettles from 1994 to 1998, which led to an increasing attention regarding this agricultural commodity. In addition to botanical analyzes, extensive field trials were carried out and evaluated. The phd thesis also deals with the history of nettle cultivation, the anatomy and morphology of the plant with numerous illustrations and the systematic of the Great Nettle. In a 30-page discussion, the advantages and problems of cultivation and processing of this fiber plant are described and compared with the fiber plants cotton, hemp and flax.

Diagramm Fiber Content

The résumé of the work: Even today, some fiber nettles clones prove to be a high-performance, renewable raw material with interesting application potential in the field of technical materials and textiles.

Further research projects:

  • in vitro alternatives to animal experiments
  • Biotechnological natural fiber extraction