Indigenous Use and Commercialization of Urtica dioica l. from Local Communities of Kieni West Sub County, Nyeri County, Kenya

Author(s): Wairimu Kamicha, Rebecca N. Karanja, and Grace W. Ngaruiya.

Though the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is categorized globally as an invasive species and nuisance weed due to its stinging trichomes, the plant is a source of vital nutrition and an ingredient in many indigenous medicine practices. Urtica dioica has a dense rhizome that ensures its survival, enduring adverse climatic conditions throughout the year. Hence, this study sought to determine indigenous knowledge on the uses of U. dioica by the local communities in three parts of semi-arid Kieni Sub County namely Endarasha, Charity, and Watuka. Questionnaires were administered to 196 local informants on the diverse indigenous uses of U. dioica. Independent sample t-test showed no significant difference (P>0.05) in the use of U. dioica as a medicinal plant across gender. 100% of the respondents rated U. dioica as among the most consumed vegetable. Thirdly, the study established the use of U. dioica in the food, medicine, and veterinary sector. Lastly, despite prolonged adverse climatic conditions in the Kieni region, there has been a general increasing trend of U. dioica invasiveness over the last 10 years. Such consumption, coupled with the resistance of U. dioica to harsh climatic changes could indicate the future economic potential of the plant species in the local cottage industries to support the government's food production and manufacturing agenda. This study recommends increasing public awareness of the benefits of U. dioica to boost its consumption.

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