Urtica urens   Small Nettle CC DD N

Urtica urens whole Urtica urens close

This monoecious relative of the Common Nettle likes to grow in rich soil. I find it most often in arable fields and allotments and have never seen it in my own garden which Urtica dioica is always trying to invade. The sting is supposed to be much worse than the Common Nettle but you can touch this plant and not get stung where that is hard (= impossible) to do with Urtica dioica.

Incidentally the phrase "Grasp the Nettle" meaning to tackle a tricky problem with courage or boldness is assumed to derive from the idea that if you grasp a Nettle firmly then the stings with be squashed flat and not sting you.

Try it.

I guarantee you will be stung however hard you grasp the Nettle. I note that the very few who have claimed not to be stung always did so through gritted teeth.

Urtica urens is common in England, coastal Wales and in Scotland prefers the east at the coast and inland somewhat. It is uncommon in the north west of Scotland but is found on the outer Hebrides and Shetland. It is reasonably common all over Ireland.

Helsby field, Cheshire 7th October 2009

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

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