Page authors: Ben Legler, David Giblin
Urtica dioica
stinging nettle

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: In deep, rich soil or near moisture, sagebrush deserts, shady lowlands and mountain slopes, sea level to subalpine.

Flowers: May-September

Origin: Both native and introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Strongly rhizomatous perennial 1-3 m. tall with stinging hairs, glabrous except for the stinging hairs to bristly and silky-pubescent.


Leaves opposite, petiolate, 7-15 cm. long, the blade from narrowly lanceolate and acute at the base to broadly ovate and cordate, coarsely serrate; stipules prominent, 10-15 mm. long.


Flowers clustered in the axils, in panicles or branching spikes, greenish, apetalous and imperfect; pistillate flowers uppermost, with 4 unequal calyx lobes, 1-celled pistil, and capitate stigma; staminate flowers with 4 pubescent calyx lobes 1-2 mm. long and 4 stamens.


Achene 1.5 mm. long, flattened.


Flora of North America, Vol. 3: "The tip of the stinging hair breaks off upon slight contact, leaving a sharp point that readily pierces skin and allows fluid contents of the hair to enter flesh through the body of the hair, which acts as a miniature hypodermic needle."

Accepted Name:
Urtica dioica L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 2: 984. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Urtica dioica in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Urtica dioica checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Urtica dioica information.

E-Flora BC: Urtica dioica atlas page.

CalPhotos: Urtica dioica photos.

USDA Plants: Urtica dioica information.

60 photographs:
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