Nettle or bicchu buti grows wild as undergrowth particularly in Almora and Chamoli districts in Uttarakhand a state in northern part of India. The stem fibers are pliable and used to weave knit fabric. It was lying unexplored until 7-8 years back, when on realizing its potential in the field of textiles, many organizations in the region initiated research and development activities on the possibilities of handloom based product development in nettle.

Countries like UK and Germany, have been involved in the development of nettle since 1999, and have made considerable growth in this direction. A number of researches have been conducted not only in developing commercial textiles using nettle, but also in the cultivation and propagation of the crop in the most sustainable manner.


Significant development has been made in the processes of cultivation and fibre extraction by many renowned European organizations, institutes and companies. Himalayan Nettle is a grass species, the plant is found in the upper reaches of Himalayas, the plant can attain a height of up to 12 to 18 feet in height. Different pockets of Uttarakhand has traditionally used the plant fiber for making domestic products like ropes and other rope based products such as slippers used locally called as Chappel, Ghana, Natesh, Jotan. Over the years these raw material for these products has been replaced by plastic. Nettle fiber was widely used for thousands of years as a source of fiber for bowstrings, fishing nets and lines, snares, and cordage. It is an annual/perennial plant and grows to 3 meter.


Nettle fiber is very similar to flax and was used for fine textiles, sail cloth and rope for centuries. The perennial stinging nettle was cultivated during the 19th century until the Second World War and has a long history as a fiber plant. The hairs covering the stems and leaves are filled with fluid and break off when touched, leaving a sharp point like a small hypodermic needle that allows the fluid to enter the skin and cause blistering.


Nettle fiber has remarkable high tensile strength, fineness, low specific weight and an average length of 3m; this allows production of fine fabrics. Although the plants produce good fiber but commercial extraction for high quality fiber has not yet been achieved. Various parts of the nettle plant can be used as food, fodder and as raw material for different purposes in cosmetics, medicine, industry and biodynamic agriculture