Nature & Ecology
Making twine with nettle, seems like a great craft activity for the visitors to Cama Beach State Park. There is an unlimited supply of local raw material. Having watched the twining part done once, it didn’t look too hard. The stalks didn’t seem dangerous, leaves falling off in the cooler autumn weather. With gloves I harvested some. The written description I followed instructed me to remove the outer covering by peeling it and keep the fibrous material inside. That didn’t go so well and I ended up with a pile of fibrous material in a variety of lengths, and a bunch of the outer covering that didn’t manage to separate too well. I’ll keep trying and perhaps in some future article I can show a picture of some spun twine. This time I learned admiration and respect for people who have the knowledge and skill to make useful items from the materials of the surrounding environment.
On this quest I also learned a variety of traditional medicinal uses for nettle. The juice of a nettle will relieve a nettle sting strangely enough. Other medicinal applications might be useful to those of us who have reached an age where stiffness and soreness have become frequent companions. Rubbing stiff joints with fresh nettles gives instant relief; it is a counter irritant for arthritis, rheumatism and backache. I know you are thinking that of course all that red blotchy swelling and rash will take your mind off some of your troubles; anyone who has ever touched a nettle will vouch for that. After you recover from the stinging it will kill the pain and cause a general numbness. With the prices of everything rising and incomes dwindling we might find ourselves relearning some of the abundant uses of our native plants.
Submitted by Tina Dinzl-Pederson, Naturalist at Camano Island’s state parks. Sources: C. Norman Shealy; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies, 1998. Krista K. Thie; Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Northwest: A Digest of Anthropological Writings about Native American Uses, 1999. Photo: wikipedia.org