Botanical Name: Girardinia diversifolia
Species: G. diversifolia
*Girardinia adoensis (Steud.) Wedd.
*Girardinia armata Kunth nom. illeg.
*Girardinia chingianae S.S.Chien
*Girardinia condensata (Hochst. ex Steud.) Wedd.
*Girardinia erosa Decne.
*Girardinia formosana Hayata ex
Common Names: Himalayan nettle or Nilghiri nettle, Bichchhoo, Indian stinging nettle • Hindi: Bichchhoo • Kannada: Turike • Ladakhi: ?Zozot • Manipuri: Santhak • Nepali: Allo, Allo Sisnu, Bhyaangre Sisnu, Chaalne Sisnu, Kaali Sisnu, Lekh Sisnu, Thulo Sisnu • Mizo: Kangthai • Tangkhul: Anzar
Habitat: Girardinia diversifolia is native to E. Asia – India to China and Malaysia. It grows on the waste ground and shrubberies, 800 – 2700 metres in the Himalayas. Moist, shady, forested areas at elevations of 1200 – 3000 metres in Nepal.
Girardinia diversifolia is a perennial /annual herbaceous shrub that grows to 3 m (9ft 10in). The plant grows as a clump, and each clump has many stems. The stem contains bast fiber of unique quality which is strong, smooth and light. Stipules are oblong-ovate, 1-3 cm long. Leaves are elliptic, ovate in outline, with base heart-shaped or flat, margin usually 3, 5, or 7-lobed or, rarely, regularly toothed or sometimes double-toothed at leaf base. Male inflorescences are cyme-like racemes or like panicles, 5-11 cm. Female ones are in distal axils of stem, 10-28 cm, 2.5-3 mm in diameter. There are a few subspecies with differing inflorescences and leaves.
It is in flower from September to October, and the seeds ripen from October to November. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required).
Since the plant can be grown as an annual there is a good chance of success in temperate climates especially if the plants are started early in a greenhouse[K]. Plants can be dioecious or monoecious, though the annual form is generally monoecious
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May. If you have sufficient seed it might be worthwhile trying a sowing outdoors in situ in the middle of spring. Division of roots.
Young leaves and inflorescences – cooked as a green vegetable. Care should be exercised when harvesting the leaves because they have stinging hairs. However, these hairs are neutralized by heat and so the cooked leaves are perfectly safe to eat.
Warning: Unverified information However, the plant itself has medicinal value, and Nettle Tea has been used in Europe for many centuries. The leaves should not be touched with bare hands, but dried or boiled thoroughly in water , are used as diuretic, anti- rheumatic, anti-allergic and also for lactating mothers. The other parts of the plant are also useful for production of oils, biomass and fibre or paper.
A decoction of the roots and basal stems is mixed with wine and drunk as a cure for malignant boils. A decoction of the roots, mixed with Centella asiatica, is used to treat gastric troubles. The juice of the root is used to treat constipation. The fresh juice of the leaves is applied externally in the treatment of headaches and swollen joints. A decoction of the plant is used to treat fevers. The ashes of the plant are applied externally in the treatment of ringworm and eczema.
A fibre is obtained from the stem. It is fine and silky and is used for making coarse cloth, ropes and twine. Yields of fibre are around 600kg per hectare. The plant grows to heights of 3 or 4 feet and is often used as fencing to keep out cattle
Known Hazards: This plant has very virulent stinging hairs. . The popular hindi name Bichchhoo means scorpion. Indeed the itch produced by the plant, which in milder doses is that of many red ants, and with extensive contact can be like that of bees or scorpion stings, and may need anti-allergic medication. The itch is produced from the formic acid contained in the oil glands under the stinging hairs.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.