stinging nettle

stinging nettle















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Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis






Wet to dry. Disturbed sites.


June to September

Flower Color



18 to 72






This is a 18 to 72 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a long rhizome. It often forms large colonies or dense patches.

The stems are erect, stout, unbranched, and 4-angled. They are hairless or have straight, stiff, sharp, appressed hairs, with a few stinging hairs.

The leaves are opposite, egg-shaped to lance-shaped, 2 to 8 long, and ¾ to 3 wide. The blades are rounded, rarely heart-shaped, at the base, and taper to a point at the tip. The upper surface is hairless or has minute, fine, short hairs, but rarely has a few stinging hairs. The lower surface has stinging hairs. The margins are coarsely toothed, the teeth averaging 1 16 to deep. The leaves droop downward slightly on ½ to 2½ long stalks that have stinging hairs. At the base of each leaf stalk are a pair of 3 16 to long, lance-shaped, leaf-like appendages (stipules).

The inflorescence is a branched, spreading, elongated cluster drooping downward on a stalk rising from the middle and upper leaf axils.

Individual flowers have either male or female reproductive parts, but not both (unisexual). Both male (with stamens) and female (with pistils) flowers are borne on all plants with the female flowers above the male flowers.

Male flowers are ascending, wide, with 4 green petal-like sepals and 4 white stamens. There are no petals. Female flowers are loose and bent backward, wide, with 2 inner, egg-shaped sepals enclosing the ovary, and 2 outer, linear, narrowly spoon-shaped, or lance-shaped, petal-like sepals. There are no petals.

The fruit is an egg-shaped achene.


Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis) leaves are alternate and broader. The stem zigzags.

Small-spike false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) has no stinging hairs.

Distribution Range Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

Avon Hills Forest SNA
North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Bonanza Prairie SNA

Boot Lake SNA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Cedar Mountain SNA

Cedar Rock SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Compass Prairie SNA

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow-Hassan Park Reserve

Des Moines River SNA

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA
Shrike Unit

Flandrau State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Hastings SNA

Hayes Lake State Park

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Kilen Woods State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Lundblad Prairie SNA

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR
Black Dog Preserve Unit
Long Meadow Lake Unit
Louisville Swamp Unit
Rapids Lake Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
Lawrence Unit

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Osmundson Prairie SNA

Ottertail Prairie SNA

Partch Woods SNA

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Richard M. & Mathilde Rice Elliott SNA

Ripley Esker SNA

River Terrace Prairie SNA

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Roscoe Prairie SNA

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Staffanson Prairie

Sheepberry Fen

Strandness Prairie

Town Hall Prairie

Townsend Woods SNA

Twin Lakes SNA

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo Prairie SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Yellow Bank Hills SNA

Zimmerman Prairie

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA


The stinging hairs are hollow and act like syringes injecting histamine, acetylcholine, and a neurotoxin. They produce an intense burning and itching sensation.

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Urticaceae (nettle)


Urtica californica

Urtica cardiophylla

Urtica dioica var. angustifolia

Urtica dioica var. californica

Urtica dioica var. gracilis

Urtica dioica var. lyallii

Urtica dioica var. procera

Urtica gracilis

Urtica lyallii

Urtica lyallii var. californica

Urtica major

Urtica procera

Urtica serra

Urtica strigosissima

Urtica viridis


California nettle

slender nettle

stinging nettle

tall nettle





A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

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