The word nettle comes from the Old English noedl, derived from a word meaning needle.
An under-rated herb, the young shoots can be boiled and eaten much as spinach is. Nettles are much valued by herbalists and an infusion it is used to treat a variety of complaints, also as a tonic to enrich and cleanse the blood.
Because of their sting, nettles have a natural defence against grazing animals, making them ideal habitat for insects. They apparently support over 40 different species, including many colourful butterflies.
Nettles have been used to provide green dye and are sometimes associated with spring both in folk practices and in some Christian cultures (ref: Paul Beyerl in his compendium of Herbal Magick). He goes on to say that in some parts of Russia, it is the custom to use nettles as one of the dyes to stain eggs on Maundy Thursday in preparation for Easter Sunday.