Nettles are represented in Cyprus by four species and two subspecies. One of them is endemic, that is, it is found only on the island.
The useful properties of nettles were known even to the ancient Greeks, who called them “acalufe” or “knide”. It was used as a green dye, as well as to treat various diseases, such as rheumatism and inflammatory diseases, especially of the lower urinary tract and prostate.
The following varieties of this plant can be found in Cyprus:
- Stinging nettle (Urtica urens), reaches a height of 60 cm, blooms between January and April, and is found on the plains of the island;
- Urtica pilulifera, which can reach a height of over a meter and grows from the coast to 610 meters above sea level and blooms between February and April;
- Urtica membranacea grows to a height of 50 cm, is found mainly on the coast, and blooms in March and April;
- nettle (Urtica dioica) is represented in Cyprus by two subspecies: U. dioica ssp. dioica, which grows from the coast to 610 m asl, and the endemic U. dioica ssp. cypria, which prefers mountainous areas from 580 to 1220 m above sea level.
Nettles actively begin to grow with the first rains. It is known for its stinging hairs, which contain formic acid and cause a burning sensation. In Cyprus, the traditional way to get rid of the unpleasant sensation is to rub the burned area with leaves of the forest mallow. Young nettles and seeds of adult plants are used in Cyprus as fodder for poultry.