Common name: Stinging nettle, common nettle, stinging nettle or nettle leaf, nettle. stinger,
Local name: Koogas, कूगस, कूगसी बिच्छू बूटी
There are three plants called by the same name koogas, koogasi and Bichoo buti in Himachal Pradesh, but identified by three different botanical names viz. Urtica dioica, Urtica parviflora and Girardiana heterophylla of family Urticaceae. As these are closely related with each other, so they have quite similar appearance and also cause irritation when touched. Hardly someone will be there, who is unfamiliar with these plants and who have not felt and forgotten their touch. Plant we are discussing here is Urtica dioica, it is a widespread perennial herb growing all over the Himachal Pradesh upto an altitude of 3000 m. Koogas is mostly found growing at moist sites along with streams, in open forests, on mountain slopes, ditches and in disturbed areas such as roadsides and old fields. It causes itching and inflammatory effect on body when touched. So, it is also called “stinging nettle, stinger and common nettle” in English. This is the reason that people especially kids afraid to go nearby to this plant. People use koogas frequently to teach lesson to their children, so it is often known and used as children teacher.
Very few people know that inspite of its itching nature, leaves and shoot terminals of koogas are edible, As older leaves can be laxative, so relatively younger leaves and tender terminals are preferred for cooking. Most common preparation from koogas is saag (cooked leaves). But sometimes chutney and kachru or masoru are also prepared. Saag of koogas is a quite popular in the hills and is a seasonal delicacy in winters. Local people of hills mainly eat koogas saag along with maize ROTI for its warming effect on body, while People in plains prefer koogas chutney more as compare to saag. Addition of souring agent in chutney neutralize its warming effect. People also intake koogas leaves as tea for weight reduction program.
People mainly use this plant as a food to harness its medicinal and nutritive value. Koogas is a good source of vitamin A, C and minerals. its decoction is used as diuretic, astringent and anthelmintic. It has been found useful to cure jaundice. Tea made from the young tops is a cure for Nettle rash. Nettle tea and Nettle tincture are curative of feverish gout as well as of intermittent fever and promote a speedy extrication of gravel through the Kidneys.
In present scenario koogas is an underestimated and neglected herb, inspite of having rich food and medicinal value it is considered as a weed to be eliminated by the contemporary agriculturist
A perennial herb, 150 cm tall.
Stems slender angular, simple or few branched covered with stinging hairs and bristles.
Leaves dark green, broadly ovate or ovate-cordate, 2.5-8.5 × 2-7 cm, often membranous, 5-veined, lateral basal veins arcuate, reaching middle margin, secondary veins 2-4 each side; base rounded or shallowly opposite cordate, margin doubly dentate, finely toothed covered with stinging hairs and bristles. apex acuminates.
Inflorescences bisexual; The small dioecious flowers are either male or female in separate inflorescences, brown to yellowish green in color, occurring as racemes in the axils of the upper leaves and flowering from May to September every year. The flowers are more delicate than those of the Urtica parviflora
Koogas can provide edible leaves and shoot terminals throughout the year.
Koogas is eaten as a leafy vegetable and its flavour is similar to spinach but with a slightly greener and earthier flavour. As older leaves can be laxative, so relatively younger leaves and tender terminals are preferred for cooking. Most common preparation from koogas is saag. Sometimes chutney and kachru or masoru is also prepared from the leaves.
Method of Kugas leaf harvest
People cover their hands with gloves or by wrapping cloth around hands while collecting the leaves. The leaves lose their stinging property after the these are soaked in water. The stinging effect completely vanishes after cooking. Saag (cooked leaves) of koogas is a quite popular in the hills and is a seasonal delicacy in winters.
Harvesting koogas Leaf
Koogas saag :
Chopped leaves and tender shoot tips, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste
Boil chopped leaves and tender tips with or without rice or maize flour till they are soft. Then mesh these manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted sag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onions and cooked again for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Koogas saag ready to serve.
Young leaves chopped, 1kg; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1/2 kg; fresh coriander leaves (chopped),1 cup amount; 1/2 table spoon caraway, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped medium sized onions and salt according to taste.
Make a paste of chopped leaves, besan or corn flour and spices listed above. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put some paste over a pan, spread it like a chapati and cook from both sides for 15 to 20 minutes and kachru will be ready to serve.
To prepare chutney, take 100 gm chopped koogas leaves, 100 gm chopped mint leaves, 50 gm anardana or amchoor, 5-6 green chillies, 20 gm coriander leaves, 2-3 onion, 1table spoon amount ginger. Grind all well in a mixer and add salt according to taste. Now chutney is ready to serve.
Koogas Kachru ready to serve
To prepare chutney, take 100 gm koogas leaves, 100 gm mint leaves, 50-80 gm anardana or amchoor or Khat – malori (Rumes hastatus) leaves, 5-6 green chillies, 10 gm tirmire leaves ( Zanthoxylum armatum),20 gm coriander leaves, 2-3 onion, 1 table spoon amount ginger. Grind all well in a mixer and add salt and sugar according to taste. Now chutney is ready to serve.
Fresh leaves contain approximately 82.4% water, 17.6% dry matter, 5.5% protein, 0.7 to 3.3% fat, and 7.1% carbohydrates. Viitamins A and C, Minerals (Ca, K, Mg, P, Si, S, Cl) and trace elements (Mn, Cu, Fe) contents depend mostly on the soil and the season.
Seek advice from a professional before using this plant medicinally.
The root is diuretic. The juice of this plant is use as an external irritant. The decoction is used as diuretic, astringent, anthelmintic. It has been found useful for nephritic troubles, in haemorrages- espascially from the kidneys or uterus, consumption and jaundice. Tea made from the young tops is a Devonshire cure for Nettle rash. Nettle tea and Nettle tincture are curative of feverish gout as well as of intermittent fever and ague. Either remedy will promote a speedy extrication of gravel through the Kidneys.
The fresh nettle juice in doses of from 1 to 2 table spoonfuls is a most serviceable remedy for all sots of bleeding, whether from the nose, the lungs, or some internal organ. Also the decoction of the leaves and stalks taken moderate quanties is capital for many of the minor skin maladies. When dried, the leaves will often relive asthma and similar bronchial trouble by inhalation all though other mean have failed. (8000 To 10700 Feet).
The stem of koogas plants yield a fibre which is used in making ropes.
Koogas plants are also sometimes fed to cattle.