Stinging Nettle is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in woodland, grassland and waste ground, to a mature height of up to 120cm.
Stinging Nettles grow as male and female plants, bearing tiny inconspicuous flowers, densely clustered on catkins. Male catkin flower buds are roughly spherical, have a reddish tinge and the open flowers have four protruding stamens. Female catkins appear whitish, tend to dangle downwards, and the flowers have protruding 'spidery' stigmas. Nettles are wind pollinated and so have no need for showy petals or scent to attract insects.
Botanic classification and naming: Stinging Nettle is a member of the Nettle (Urticaceae) family. The genus name
'Urtica' identifies the plant as a Nettle and its species name 'dioica' means 'separate male/ female plants'.
Concerns: Skin contact with leaves breaks stinging hairs of silicate to release and inject a painful, itchy skin irritant.
Benefits: Nettle is a food source for over forty insect species. It supports many different types of caterpillars, including those of the Peacock and Comma butterflies and the Garden Tiger and Jersey Tiger moths. Its insect populations, along with its seed, provide a good food source for a wide range of birds.
Benefits to wildlife are also indicated with orange icons in the plant profile bar at the top.