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This native plant is often mistaken for the introduced Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle). Both species have stinging hairs and a similar appearance. However, the Wood Nettle has some alternate leaves, while Stinging Nettle has pairs of opposite leaves only. There are also differences in the characteristics of their flowers. Another similar species, Boehmeria cylindrica (False Nettle), also has opposite leaves, but it lacks stinging hairs altogether. Like other members of the Nettle family, the Wood Nettle lacks showy flowers because they are wind-pollinated, rather than pollinated by insects. Some people may regard this species as an undesirable woodland weed because of its stinging hairs and unassuming appearance, but it is an important host plant of some native butterflies.


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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