Urtica dioica   Common Nettle CCC D N

Urtica dioica whole Urtica dioica close

The Stinging Nettle is known to most people who have no knowledge at all of matters botanical but Stace calls it Common Nettle - a name I have never heard outside botanical circles. This is the nettle which stings if you simply brush gently against it while the other one capable of stinging, Urtica urens (Small Nettle) often doesn't sting at all even with good contact.

None of the other plants called "Nettle" i.e. White Deadnettle, Red Deadnettle can sting. People also believe that the antidote is to rub a nettle sting with a dock leaf - more problematic as these same folk don't know what a dock looks like.

This plant now grows all over the country and has infested many of our country verges where the nutrients from agricultural fertilisers are very much to its liking. Tall perennials like Urtica dioica then swamp the smaller plants which disappear from our country lanes. It should be good for Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral both of which are supposed to use it as a food plant - but I rarely see caterpillars on nettles.

The species name dioica means that the plants has male and female flowers on separate plants.

Urtica dioica is one of our commonest plants and is found in all parts of the British Isles including the outer islands of Shetland and St Kilda.

LHS: Helsby, Cheshire 7th October 2009 RHS: Gaitbarrows, 20th July 2004

Added on November 8th 2004, amended on February 5th 2005, updated 18th February 2012

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