The giant Himalayan nettle (Giradinia Diversifolia) grows wild in the far east and west of Nepal at altitudes of 1200 - 3000m, often on steep slopes where its widespread root system helps to stabalise the soil. In the far east it is known as 'allo' and is considered sacred by the Rai people.
This incredible plant produces some of the longest plant fibres in the world unique for their strength, smoothness and, if treated properly, their silk-like lustre and lightness. Simliar to the linen made from flax, nettle (allo) products soften with washing and use.
Members of the Rai, Gurung and Magar ethnic groups have extracted and used the 'allo' fibres for centuries harvesting it by hand and then processing the stems using only water and wood ash. The resulting lustrious fibres are hand spun and then used for a huge variety of purposes including tying the umbilical cord of babies, knotting fishing nets, weaving fabric for clothing and knitting beautiful lace shawls popular with tourists.