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Biology

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The common nettle is a perennial species (3), which flowers from June to August (6) and spreads by seeds and by vegetative reproduction via creeping underground rhizomes (5). It is one of the most important plants in Britain for invertebrates, and is essential for many of our species of butterflies and moths, including the caterpillars of the beautiful small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and peacock (Inacis io) butterflies (4). It is not grazed by animals due to the presence of the protective stinging hairs, and so the nettle provides a relatively safe habitat for insects and their larvae (4). Humans have put the nettle to various uses; it does not sting when it has been cooked, and can be eaten like spinach or made into nutritious soups. A good green manure can be made by steeping the leaves in water, and in Germany the fibres were used to make army uniforms during the First World War when cotton was in short supply (5). It also has a number of medical uses, such as treatments for arthritis and gout (4).
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Conservation

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Conservation action is not required for this species.
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Description

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The common or stinging nettle is a well-known and highly successful 'weed' species (4). The roots are very tough and are yellow in colour, and the creeping stems, which often take root at their bases, produce shoots during spring (2). The oval-shaped leaves are easily recognised; they have deeply serrated edges and bear stinging hairs. These hollow hairs have a similar structure to hypodermic needles, and have a swollen base that contains the venom (4); an encounter with these leaves is not quickly forgotten (4). The specific part of the scientific name dioica means 'two houses', which refers to the fact that the male and female flowers are found on separate plants (4). The small whitish flowers are clustered in spikes known as inflorescences, which reach up to 10 cm in length (2).
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Habitat

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The common nettle prefers damp soils that are rich in nutrients. It occurs in a broad variety of habitats, such as woods, unmanaged grasslands, scrub, hedgerows, road verges, waste ground, gardens, farmland, fens and river banks (3).
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Range

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Common and widely spread throughout Britain (2). Elsewhere it occurs in temperate parts of Europe and Asia (2), and has been introduced to many areas outside of this native range (3).
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Status

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Extremely common and widespread (3).
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Threats

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This species is not threatened.
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Comments

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Dmitry Geltman (pers. comm.) notes that U. dioica subsp. sondenii (Simmons) A. Löve & D. Löve (U. dioica var. sondenii Simmons; U. sondenii (Simmons) Avrorin ex Geltman) occurs in the mountainous regions of Xinjiang (Altay Shan, etc.).
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of China Vol. 5: 82 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of China @ eFloras.org
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Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & Hong Deyuan
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Description

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Dioecious, perennial, 50-150 cm herb with a dense indumentum of stinging hairs. Stem angled. Leaves with 1.5-4 cm long petiole; lamina narrowly lanceolate to ovate, 5-12 cm long, 2.5-8 cm broad, cordate at the base, margin serrate, apex acute-acuminate; stipules free lateral, oblong-lanceolate, 8-12 mm long, ciliate. Racemes of cymes axillary, often longer than the subtending petiole, densely appressed pubescent, with scattered stinging hairs. Flowers pale-greenish, or whitish, bracteate; bracts of male flowers smaller than those of female flowers. Sepals pubescent. Achenes up to c. 1.5 mm long, ovoid-ellipsoid, pale green or greenish-brown.
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of Pakistan Vol. 0: 3 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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S. I. Ali & M. Qaiser
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Description

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Herbs , perennial, rhizomatous, 5-30 dm. Stems simple or branched, erect or sprawling. Leaf blades elliptic, lanceolate, or narrowly to broadly ovate, 6-20 × 2-13 cm, base rounded to cordate, margins coarsely serrate, sometimes doubly serrate, apex acute or acuminate; cystoliths rounded. Inflorescences paniculate, pedunculate, elongate. Flowers unisexual, staminate and pistillate on same or different plants, staminate ascending, the pistillate lax or recurved. Pistillate flowers: outer tepals linear to narrowly spatulate or lanceolate, 0.8-1.2 mm, inner tepals ovate to broadly ovate, 1.4-1.8 × 1.1-1.3 mm. Achenes ovoid to broadly ovoid, 1-1.3(-1.4) × 0.7-0.9 mm.
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 3 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of North America Editorial Committee
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Description

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Herbs perennial, dioecious, rarely monoecious. Rhizomes woody, stoloniferous. Stems simple or few branched, 40-100 cm tall; stems and petioles often densely or sometimes sparsely covered with stinging and setulose hairs. Stipules free, linear, (2-)5-8 mm; petiole 2.5-4 cm; leaf blade ovate, sometimes lanceolate, 5-13 × 2.5-6 cm, often herbaceous, (3-)5-veined, lateral basal veins reaching distal margin and anastomosing, secondary veins 3-5 each side, adaxial surface sparsely covered with stinging and setulose hairs, abaxial surface often densely covered with long, stinging and setulose hairs along veins, base cordate, margin coarsely 15-21-serrate or -dentate, teeth often incurved-tipped, apex acuminate or long acuminate; cystoliths punctiform. Inflorescences paniculate, 3-7 cm; female inflorescences with slender axes, often drooping in fruit. Male flowers in bud ca. 1.4 mm; perianth lobes connate 1/2 of length, puberulent. Female flowers: perianth lobes connate at 1/4 of lower part, dorsal-ventral lobes elliptic-ovate, 1.2-1.5 mm, sparingly setulose, lateral lobes narrowly elliptic, 2-3 × as long as the dorsal ones, Achene brownish gray, ovoid or narrowly ovoid, slightly compressed, 1-1.2(-1.4) mm, smooth, invested by persistent perianth lobes. Fl. Jun-Aug, fr. Aug-Sep.
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
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Flora of China Vol. 5: 82 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of China @ eFloras.org
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Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & Hong Deyuan
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Distribution

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Europe, N. Africa, W. Siberia, C. Asia, Himalaya, Tibet, W. China, naturalised widely in other temperate regions.
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
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Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal Vol. 0 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal @ eFloras.org
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K.K. Shrestha, J.R. Press and D.A. Sutton
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Distribution

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Distribution: Widespread in the temperate regions of both hemispheres.
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Flora of Pakistan Vol. 0: 3 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of Pakistan @ eFloras.org
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S. I. Ali & M. Qaiser
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Distribution

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E Gansu, Qinghai, NW Sichuan, W Xinjiang, Xizang [Afghanistan, C Himalayas; N Africa, Europe, North America].
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Flora of China Vol. 5: 82 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of China @ eFloras.org
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Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & Hong Deyuan
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Elevation Range

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3000-4500 m
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Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal Vol. 0 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal @ eFloras.org
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K.K. Shrestha, J.R. Press and D.A. Sutton
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Flower/Fruit

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Fl. Per.: May-September.
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Flora of Pakistan Vol. 0: 3 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of Pakistan @ eFloras.org
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Habitat

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Moist places in forests, thickets, grasslands, stream banks; (500-) 2200-5000 m.
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Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
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Flora of China Vol. 5: 82 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flora of China @ eFloras.org
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Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & Hong Deyuan
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Comprehensive Description

provided by EOL authors

Stinging Nettle

Urtica dioica or stinging nettle is a broadleaf angiosperm and of the Urticaceae family. This perennial typically grows to between 1-3m tall with dark green leaves in an opposite pattern that are oval to heart shaped and saw toothed and are sparsely covered with stinging (and nonstinging) hairs (Schellman and Shrestha 2008). The flowers are green to white in color, with drooping clusters of four petals per flower, and occur in the leaf axils as well as at the stem tips. The fruit of the stinging nettle are small, flattened, lenticular achenes (Pojar and MacKinnon 2004).

The native range of Urtica dioica spans Europe, Asia, northern Africa, northern Mexico, and, in Canada and the US, every province and state except Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, in all of which it has been introduced, and Hawaii, where it is absent (CABI 2016), and it is typically found in meadows, thickets, and open forests as part of the understory of riparian ecosystems (Pojar and MacKinnon 2004). Stinging nettle thrives in temperate climates, particularly in wet soil that is rich in nitrogen.It prefers full sunlight and is often able to survive in areas where few species can. Generally, stinging nettle does well near rivers or lakes, but it can also be successful in environments subjected to human degradation, or on farm lands because of the rich nitrogen levels in the soils (Carey 1995). Since it grows in abundance in many locations, stinging nettle can be considered a common weed. And although it is native across a wide global range, it is often perceived as invasive due to its irritating and rather prolonged sting (CABI 2016). Stinging nettle germinates in the spring and continues to grow until late fall and individuals and colonies can also continue to regrow for many years due to their rhizome system. Rhizome pieces or parts of stems have the ability to grow into mature plants if proper conditions prevail (Schellman and Shrestha 2008).

Stinging nettle is a food source for many butterflies and aphids and the plentiful seeds provide nourishment for birds as well. Historically, the plant was cultivated for food and other industries in European countries such as Scotland, Denmark and Norway for food and other industries. Young stinging nettle can also be cooked and eaten, since cooking the leaves destroys the sting (Kew 2016; Pojar and MacKinnon, 2004). Stinging nettle has also been used in fabric dye and the tough fibers of the stems have been used for textiles (Schellman and Shrestha 2008).

Stinging nettle is infamous for its painful sting that is caused by toxins from the hairs on the stems and leaves, which apparently evolved in order to keep animals from eating the nutritious plant. These stinging hairs are needle like tubes that can pierce the skin and inject histamine and acetylcholine, which causes burning and itching that can last up to 12 hours. Nettle stings have also been found to have an anti-inflammatory property and can be used for medicinal purposes, and preparations derived from the root are used in treating benign prostate hyperplasia (Kew 2016).

References

  • CABI, 2016. Urtica dioica ( stinging nettle). [original text by Ian Popay]. In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. www.cabi.org/isc. Accessed: May 17, 2016.
  • Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/. Accessed: May 17, 2016.
  • Kew. 2016. Urtica dioica (nettle). Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/ plants-fungi/urtica-dioica-nettle. Accessed: May 16, 2016.
  • Schellman, A.E., and A. Shrestha. 2008. Burning and Stinging Nettles. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
  • http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74146.html. Accessed: May 17, 2016.

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Authors: Brooke Galberth and Colton Cheshier; Editor: Gordon L. Miller, Ph.D.; Seattle University EVST 2100 - Natural History: Theory and Practice
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Nettles - A natural multivitamin

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This site is dedicated exclusively to providing extensive information on Urtica dioica, the common stinging nettle, a plant that could well be named, "Nature's Multivitamin" given its concentration of vitamins and minerals,

Traditional healing uses from around the world are explored along with the latest scientific research on this medicinal plant. Find recipes and more as you discover the virtues of this common plant with uncommon powers. There is also a store selling Vermont organic stinging nettle tea and other local Vermont products with nettles.

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

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More info for the term: prescribed fire

Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b)and Metlen and
others' Research Project Summary provide information on prescribed fire
and postfire response of many plant species including stinging nettle.
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Common Names

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
stinging nettle
American stinging nettle
European stinging nettle
hoary nettle
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Cover Value

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More info for the terms: cover, herbaceous

Mallards and gadwalls prefer tall, dense nesting cover provided by
graminoids and herbaceous vegetation including stinging nettle [42].
Stinging nettle is a component of roughs which are good cover for
sharp-tailed grouse in Wisconsin [16].  Although listed as generally
poor wildlife cover by Dittberner and Olson [10], stinging nettle cover
is listed as fair for small nongame birds and mammals in Utah.
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Description

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: achene, dioecious, epigeal, forb, fruit, monoecious

Stinging nettle is an erect, perennial, rhizomatous forb which forms
dense clonal patches.  Stout stems grow 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) tall.
Leaves, stems, and flowers are sparsely to moderately covered with
stinging hairs.  Two subspecies, American stinging nettle and hoary
nettle, are native; the third subspecies in North America, European
stinging nettle, was introduced in the mid-1800's.  American stinging
nettle and hoary nettle are predominantly monoecious whereas European
stinging nettle is typically dioecious.  The fruit is an achene [1,51].
Stinging nettle has both epigeal and shallow subterranean rhizomes [35].
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Distribution

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
American stinging nettle is the most common subspecies in temperate
North America and occurs throughout Canada and much of the United
States.  In the East and Midwest, American stinging nettle occurs as far
south as Virginia, Missouri, and Kansas; in the West, it occurs south
along the coast to central California and south in the Rocky Mountains
to Mexico.  European stinging nettle occurs primarily along the Atlantic
Coast from Newfoundland south to Georgia and Alabama.  It is recently
adventive westward in Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Alaska.  Hoary
nettle is native to the western United States.  It occurs from eastern
Washington south through California to Mexico, east to northern Arizona
and extreme northwestern Colorado, and north to western Wyoming and
southwestern Montana [51].
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Fire Ecology

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: fire regime, litter, seed

Stinging nettle survives fire by sprouting from rhizomes.  Removal of
litter by fire may encourage stinging nettle growth and provide suitable
germination sites for seed.  However, frequent fire during the growing
season may reduce stinging nettle [43].

FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find FIRE REGIMES".
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info on this topic.

More info for the term: hemicryptophyte

Hemicryptophyte
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat characteristics

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: facultative wetland species, seed, woodland

Stinging nettle occurs in moist sites along streams, coulees, and
ditches, on mountain slopes, in woodland clearings, and in disturbed
areas.  Stinging nettle generally grows on deep, rich soils [1,51].
American stinging nettle occurs from sea level to subalpine elevations.
Hoary nettle occurs from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) elevation in
the southern part of its range and from 2,300 to 6,600 feet (700-2,000
m) elevation in the northern part of its range [51].  Stinging nettle
persists in northern climates, spreading vegetatively rather than by
seed [40].

Stinging nettle occurs both in wetlands and in uplands.  It is a
facultative wetland species [36].  Stinging nettle is present in the
seasonally flooded emergent zone of oxbow lakes along the Connecticut
River [22].  Persistent flooding kills stinging nettle [20].
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Cover Types

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    63  Cottonwood
   222  Black cottonwood-willow
   228  Western redcedar
   229  Pacific Douglas-fir
   230  Douglas-fir-western hemlock
   234  Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
   244  Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir
   245  Pacific ponderosa pine
   246  California black oak
   249  Canyon live oak
   250  Blue oak-foothills pine
   255  California coast live oak
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Ecosystem

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   Stinging nettle probably occurs in most ecosystems.
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Plant Associations

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More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: forest

   K002  Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest
   K005  Mixed conifer forest
   K011  Western ponderosa forest
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K013  Cedar-hemlock-pine forest
   K030  California oakwoods
   K037  Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
   K093  Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce-fir forest
   K097  Southeastern spruce-fir forest
   K098  Northern floodplain forest
   K102  Beech-maple forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the terms: forb, woodland

   201  Blue oak woodland
   202  Coast live oak woodland
   203  Riparian woodland
   217  Wetlands
   409  Tall forb
   413  Gambel oak
   422  Riparian
   805  Riparian
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Immediate Effect of Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: low-severity fire

Stinging nettle is probably top-killed by fire.  Perennating buds on
shallow rhizomes probably survive low-severity fire.
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: cover

The wildlife food value of stinging nettle is listed as poor [10],
probably because of stinging hairs on the foliage.  Stinging nettle
provides cover for small animals [10,16,42].
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Key Plant Community Associations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: forest, marsh, woodland

Stinging nettle is a common understory component of riparian communities
[30,50,52].  In the Santa Ana Mountains along the southern California
Coast, American stinging nettle occurs in the understory of a riparian
woodland dominated by California sycamore (Platanus racemosa), white
alder (Alnus rhombifolia), and red willow (Salix laevigata) [48].  In
Kern County, California, hoary nettle is abundant in the understory of a
Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), Pacific willow (Salix
lasiandra), and red willow community [23].  In Montana, American
stinging nettle occurs in a western redcedar (Thuja plicata) community
in a ravine dissected by spring run-off channels [18].

Stinging nettle occurs in and adjacent to marshes and meadows.  In North
Dakota, stinging nettle occurs in a sedge (Carex spp.)-dominated zone
between an emergent marsh and upland meadow [29].

Stinging nettle occurs in moist forest communities in the southern
Appalachian Mountains [4].
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bibliographic citation
Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Life Form

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: forb

Forb
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Management considerations

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More info for the terms: cover, invasive species, marsh

Stinging nettle is considered a weedy, invasive species.  It is listed
as a noxious weed in several Canadian provinces.  Stinging nettle hairs
are irritating to human skin, and the pollen is a major contributor to
summer hay fever [1].

When distributed through the soil by disturbance such as mechanical
cultivation, stinging nettle rhizomes can establish dense new colonies.
However, repeated plowing will eliminate stinging nettle.  When mowed,
stinging nettle sends up numerous bushy shoots [1].

Spraying with 2,4-D herbicide substantially reduced stinging nettle
cover in a central Wisconsin marsh [19].

Stinging nettle is used by foresters as an indicator of high soil
fertility [38].

Insects, micro-organisms, and viruses associated with stinging nettle
are listed [1].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Nutritional Value

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Stinging nettle is very nutritious.  Stinging nettle hay contains 21 to
23 percent crude protein, 3 to 5 percent crude fats, 35 to 39 percent
non-nitrogen extracts, 9 to 21 percent crude fiber, and 19 to 29 percent
ash.  Amino acids in dehydrated stinging nettle meal are nutritionally
superior to those of dehydrated alfalfa (Medicago sativa) meal [1].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Occurrence in North America

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
     AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  ID
     IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI
     MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ  NM  NY
     NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN
     TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  DC  AB
     BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK
     YT  MEXICO
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Other uses and values

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Boiled stinging nettle leaves are edible and can be substituted for
spinach [1,11].

Stinging nettle fibers were used by Native Americans in the Northwest to
make twine, fishing nets, and rope.  Stinging nettle has many medicinal
uses [45].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Palatability

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Stinging nettle is unpalatable to livestock [10].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Phenology

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More info on this topic.

Stinging nettle sends new shoots up each year from perennating buds on
rhizomes.  Maximum root development occurs in the spring prior to
flowering.  American stinging nettle flowers from late May to October,
European stinging nettle flowers from June to October, and hoary nettle
flowers from July to October.  In northern areas, flowering is condensed
into a shorter time period, ending in late August [1,51].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Plant Response to Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: competition, cover, density, forest, frequency, litter, marsh, rhizome, seed, wildfire

Stinging nettle regenerates from buried rhizomes and/or seed after fire.
Stinging nettle bloomed during the first postfire growing season on a
ravine site in western Montana that burned in mid-July.  Although
stinging nettle thrives on disturbance, its rate of spread after the
fire on this site may have been slowed by competition from orchard grass
(Dactylis glomerata) [8].

One year after a wildfire in northern Utah, stinging nettle was present
at low frequency on plots in a burned Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii)
brush community but was not present on adjacent unburned plots [30].

In southern California, large amounts of sediment were deposited in a
riparian zone after a July fire in a riparian forest dominated by coast
live oak (Q. agrifolia), white alder, and California sycamore.  Stinging
nettle emerged from the sediment and was a common species on lower and
middle terraces in the riparian zone during the 3 years following the
fire [9].

Stinging nettle occurred in a central Wisconsin marsh dominated by
goldenrod (Solidago spp.), butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris), white
meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), and grasses.  Fire was prescribed on two
sites in the spring 1 week after snowmelt.  Approximately 96 percent of
the dry surface fuels were eliminated.  Vegetation was inventoried
during the growing seasons before and after the fires.  Stinging nettle
prefire and postfire covers are as follows [19]:

Prefire cover Postfire cover
Site 1              2.0%      1.8%
Site 2             less than 0.5%      2.5%


Stinging nettle shoot density and biomass after fire depends on the
season of burn.  Stinging nettle shoots per square meter and biomass
measured the first growing season after each fire in a common reed
(Phragmites australis) stand in Delta Marsh, Manitoba, are as follows:

      Density                         Biomass
              (nonseedling shoots/sq m)             (grams/sq m)

Control          6.7 36.2
Summer fire 18.4 33.9
Fall fire  4.9 10.3
Spring fire 18.8 52.9

Stinging nettle biomass was less than in the control the first growing
season after the fall fire.  The authors suggest that the stinging
nettle rhizome buds may have succumbed to winterkill after the fall fire
because there were no dead standing canes to trap snow and insulate the
soil.  Stinging nettle biomass was greater than in the control in the
first growing season after the spring fire.  Stinging nettle is capable
of fast growth and, with the removal of common reed litter by fire, was
able to compete with the common reed.  Stinging nettle biomass did not
differ substantially from the control 1 year after the summer fire.
There were more shoots per meter after the summer fire but the shoots
were smaller than in the control, possibly because resources were depleted
by regrowth immediately after the summer fire [43].

Stinging nettle seedlings established at a density of 6.9 seedlings per
square foot (76.8/sq m) 1 month after the summer fire.  Only a few
seedlings established after the fall and spring fires [43]. 
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Post-fire Regeneration

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: ground residual colonizer, herb, rhizome

   Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
   Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
   Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regeneration Processes

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: forest, habitat type, marsh, rhizome, seed

Stinging nettle reproduces vegetatively and by seed.

Stinging nettle produces abundant seed.  Plants growing in the shade
produce approximately 500 to 5,000 seeds per shoot and plants growing in
full sunlight produce 10,000 to 20,000 seeds per shoot.  Seeds remain on
the plant until frost when they fall to the ground.  Seeds are not
dormant and can germinate 5 to 10 days after maturity [1]. 

Buried stinging nettle seeds persist an undetermined length of time in
the seedbank [7,26,33,34,44].  Stinging nettle seedlings emerged from
unflooded substrate samples collected from the Delta Marsh, Manitoba
[33].  Stinging nettle seeds, mostly buried less than 2 inches (5 cm)
deep, occurred in the seedbanks of three forest communities in Idaho
[26].  Stinging nettle seedlings emerged from soil samples collected
from a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)/common snowberry (Symphoricarpos
albus) habitat type in Washington.  April collections contained 48
stinging nettle seeds per square foot (533/sq m) and October collections
contained 6 seeds per square foot (67/sq m).  Most stinging nettle seeds
were buried less than 4 inches (10 cm) deep, but some were present to 10
inches (25 cm) [34].  Stinging nettle seeds have germinated in the
greenhouse after 10 years of storage [1].

Stinging nettle spreads and reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes.
Seedlings initiate vegetative spread in the first growing season.  A
rhizome planted in late summer can spread into an 8.2 foot (2.5 m)
diameter area by the following year [1].

Stinging nettle has a strong shoot thrust.  The ability to generate
mechanical force enables the plant to extend its shoots vertically into
dominant aerial positions [6].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Successional Status

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More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: competition, fern, forest, seed

Stinging nettle is probably intermediate in shade tolerance.  It occurs
and produces seed in shady habitats but produces more seed in full sun
[1].

Stinging nettle establishes colonies from which other plants are
virtually excluded.  Competition from grass may limit the spread of
stinging nettle clones [1]

Stinging nettle invades disturbed sites.  It invades forest plantations
in Great Britain when bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) is artificially
removed [5].  Stinging nettle colonizes wetland sites when water levels
drop [20,33].  It is an increaser on periodically flooded areas along
Idaho streams [37].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Synonyms

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Urtica gracilis Ait. [13,24,25]
Urtica holosericea Nutt. [53]
Urtica procera Muhl. [13,54]
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Taxonomy

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
The currently accepted scientific name for stinging nettle is Urtica
dioica L. (Urticaceae) [15,17,21,28,49]. Urtica dioica is a polymorphic
complex in North America with a confusing taxonomic history; many
varieties and subspecies have been described including an introduced
subspecies from Europe. Although formerly separated into four species
[13], most recent authors agree that the North American plants cannot be
distinguished at the species level from each other and from European
plants. The following three subspecies are currently recognized
[3,17,21,28,51]:

Urtica dioica subsp. dioica (European stinging nettle)
Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis (Ait.) Selander (American stinging nettle, California nettle)
Urtica dioica subsp. holosericea (Nutt.) Thorne (hoary nettle)
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Stinging nettle may be tolerant of heavy metals.  It is an abundant
species on metal-contaminated soil on the floodplain of a former Rhine
River estuary in the Netherlands [31].
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Carey, Jennifer H. 1995. Urtica dioica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Derivation of specific name

provided by Flora of Zimbabwe
dioica: with sexes on separate plants, dioecious
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Urtica dioica L. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/cult/species.php?species_id=203770
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Mark Hyde
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Bart Wursten
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Petra Ballings
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Description

provided by Flora of Zimbabwe
Dioecious coarse, hispid perennial herb, up to 1.5 m tall. Stems creeping and rooting at the nodes, from which erect stems arise. Leaves 4-8 cm, ovate, dentate, base usually cordate; the lower longer than their petioles. Inflorescence up to c. 10 cm, the lateral branches usually suppressed.
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Urtica dioica L. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/cult/species.php?species_id=203770
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Mark Hyde
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Bart Wursten
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Petra Ballings
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Worldwide distribution

provided by Flora of Zimbabwe
In temperate regions of the world
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Urtica dioica L. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/cult/species.php?species_id=203770
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Mark Hyde
author
Bart Wursten
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Petra Ballings
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Urtica dioica

provided by wikipedia EN

Urtica dioica, often known as common nettle, stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting) or nettle leaf, or just a nettle or stinger, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. Originally native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa,[1] it is now found worldwide, including New Zealand[2] and North America.[3][4] The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation upon contact ("contact urticaria", a form of contact dermatitis).[5][6] The plant has a long history of use as a source for traditional medicine, food, tea, and textile raw material in ancient societies.[1][7]

Description

"
Urtica dioica from Thomé, Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885

Urtica dioica is a dioecious, herbaceous, perennial plant, 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall in the summer and dying down to the ground in winter.[3] It has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow, as are the roots. The soft, green leaves are 3 to 15 cm (1 to 6 in) long and are borne oppositely on an erect, wiry, green stem. The leaves have a strongly serrated margin, a cordate base, and an acuminate tip with a terminal leaf tooth longer than adjacent laterals. It bears small, greenish or brownish, numerous flowers in dense axillary inflorescences. The leaves and stems are very hairy with non-stinging hairs, and in most subspecies, also bear many stinging hairs (trichomes or spicules), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that can inject several chemicals causing a painful sting or paresthesia, giving the species its common names: stinging nettle, burn nettle, burn weed, or burn hazel.[3][5][4]

"
Urtica dioica grown as a botanical specimen in Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Taxonomy

The taxonomy of Urtica species has been confused, and older sources are likely to use a variety of systematic names for these plants. Formerly, more species were recognised than are now accepted. However, at least six clear subspecies of U. dioica are described, some formerly classified as separate species:

  • U. dioica subsp. dioica (European stinging nettle), from Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, has stinging hairs.
  • U. dioica subsp. galeopsifolia (fen nettle or stingless nettle), from Europe, does not have stinging hairs.
  • U. dioica subsp. afghanica, from southwestern and central Asia, sometimes has stinging hairs or is sometimes hairless.[8]
  • U. dioica subsp. gansuensis, from eastern Asia (China), has stinging hairs.[8]
  • U. dioica subsp. gracilis (Ait.) Selander (American stinging nettle), from North America, has stinging hairs and is monoecious.
  • U. dioica subsp. holosericea (Nutt.) Thorne (hoary stinging nettle), from North America, has stinging hairs and is monoecious.[9]

Other species' names formerly accepted as distinct by some authors but now regarded as synonyms of one or other subspecies include U. breweri, U. californica, U. cardiophylla, U. lyalli, U. major, U. procera, U. serra, U. strigosissima, U. trachycarpa, and U. viridis.

Distribution

Urtica dioica is considered to be native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa.[1] It is abundant in northern Europe and much of Asia, usually found in the countryside. It is less widespread in southern Europe and north Africa, where it is restricted by its need for moist soil, but is still common. It has been introduced to many other parts of the world. In North America, it is widely distributed in Canada and the United States, where it is found in every province and state except for Hawaii, and also can be found in northernmost Mexico. It grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest, especially in places where annual rainfall is high. The European subspecies has been introduced into Australia, North America and South America.[10][11]

In Europe, nettles have a strong association with human habitation and buildings. The presence of nettles may indicate the site of a long-abandoned building, and can also indicate soil fertility.[12] Human and animal waste may be responsible for elevated levels of phosphate[13] and nitrogen in the soil, providing an ideal environment for nettles.

Ecology

"
A stinging nettle growing in a field

Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterflies, such as the peacock butterfly,[14] comma (Polygonia c-album), and the small tortoiseshell. It is also eaten by the larvae of some moths including angle shades, buff ermine, dot moth, the flame, the gothic, grey chi, grey pug, lesser broad-bordered yellow underwing, mouse moth, setaceous Hebrew character, and small angle shades. The roots are sometimes eaten by the larva of the ghost moth Hepialus humuli.

Stinging nettle is particularly found as an understory plant in wetter environments, but it is also found in meadows. Although nutritious, it is not widely eaten by either wildlife or livestock, presumably because of the sting. It spreads by abundant seeds and also by rhizomes, and is often able to survive and re-establish quickly after fire.[15]

Nettle sting mechanism and treatment

"
U. dioica close-up of the defensive hairs
"
A hand with nettle dermatitis

Urtica dioica produces its inflammatory effect on skin (stinging, burning sensation often called "contact urticaria") both by impaling the skin via spicules – causing mechanical irritation – and by biochemical irritants, such as histamine, serotonin, and choline, among other chemicals.[5][16][17][18][19] Anti-itch drugs, usually in the form of creams containing antihistamines or hydrocortisone, may provide relief from nettle dermatitis.[5] The term, contact urticaria, has a wider use in dermatology, involving dermatitis caused by various skin irritants and pathogens.[20] Dock leaves are a traditional remedy for the sting of nettles,[21][22] and suitable larger docks often grow conveniently in similar habitats to nettles.

Influence on language and culture

In Great Britain and Ireland, the stinging nettle (U. dioica subsp. dioica) is the only common stinging plant and has found a place in several figures of speech in the English language. Shakespeare's Hotspur urges that "out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety" (Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3). The figure of speech "to grasp the nettle" probably originated from Aesop's fable "The Boy and the Nettle".[23] In Seán O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, one of the characters quotes Aesop "Gently touch a nettle and it'll sting you for your pains/Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains". The metaphor may refer to the fact that if a nettle plant is grasped firmly rather than brushed against, it does not sting so readily, because the hairs are crushed down flat and do not penetrate the skin so easily.[24]

In the German language, the idiom sich in die Nesseln setzen, or to sit in nettles, means to get into trouble. In Hungarian, the idiom csalánba nem üt a mennykő, the thunderbolt does not strike into nettle, means bad people escape trouble or the devil looks after his own.[25] The same idiom exists in the Serbian language - неће гром у коприве. In Dutch, a netelige situatie means a predicament. In French, the idiom faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties (don't push grandma in the nettles) means that we should be careful not to abuse a situation. The name urticaria for hives comes from the Latin name of nettle (Urtica, from urere, to burn).

The English word 'nettled', meaning irritated or angry, is derived from 'nettle'.[26]

There is a common idea in Great Britain that the nettle was introduced by the Romans.[27] The idea was mentioned by William Camden in his book Britannia of 1586.[28] However, in 2011, an early Bronze Age burial cist on Whitehorse Hill,[29][30] Dartmoor, Devon was excavated. The cist dated from between 1730 and 1600 BC. It contained various high value beads as well as fragments of a sash made from nettle fibre. It is possible that the sash was traded from mainland Europe, but perhaps more probable that it was locally made.

Uses

Culinary use

"
The young leaves are edible and can be used as leaf vegetable, as with the purée shown in the above image.

U. dioica has a flavour similar to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce.[31] Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking removes the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without injury. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed-setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract.[31] In its peak season, nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable.[32] The leaves are also dried and may then be used to make a herbal tea, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.

Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto, and purée.[33] Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern and Eastern Europe.

Nettles are sometimes used in cheesemaking, for example in the production of Cornish Yarg[34] and as a flavouring in varieties of Gouda.[35]

Nettles are used in Albania as part of the dough filling for the börek. The top baby leaves are selected and simmered, then mixed with other ingredients such as herbs and rice, before being used as a filling between dough layers.[36][37] Similarly, in Greece the tender leaves are often used, after simmering, as a filling for hortopita, which is similar to spanakopita, but with wild greens rather than spinach for filling.[38]

Competitive eating

In the UK, an annual World Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (24 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighbouring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.[39][40]

Beverage use

Alcoholic beer can be made from young nettles.[41]

Medicinal use

U. dioica herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or fresh leaves) to treat disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, locomotor system, skin, cardiovascular system, hemorrhage, influenza, rheumatism, and gout.[42]

As Old English stiðe, nettle is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century. Nettle was believed to be a galactagogue, a substance that promotes lactation.[43]

Urtication, or flogging with nettles, is the process of deliberately applying stinging nettles to the skin in order to provoke inflammation. An agent thus used is known as a rubefacient (something that causes redness). This is done as a folk remedy for treatment of rheumatism.[44] In Ecuador there are indigenous healers that use stinging nettles with the belief that they improve fatigue and circulation, by rubbing raw leaves or flogging the plant directly on the body.[45]

Textiles and fibre

"
Nettle fibre, stem, yarn, textile, jewellery with glass and nettle yarn

Nettle stems contain a bast fibre that has been traditionally used for the same purposes as linen and is produced by a similar retting process. Unlike cotton, nettles grow easily without pesticides. The fibres are coarser, however.[46]

Historically, nettles have been used to make clothing for almost 3,000 years, as ancient nettle textiles from the Bronze Age have been found in Denmark.[47] German Army uniforms were almost all made from nettle during World War I due to a potential shortage of cotton. More recently, companies in Austria, Germany, and Italy have started to produce commercial nettle textiles.[48][49]

The fibre content in nettle shows a high variability and reaches from below 1% to 17%. Under middle-European conditions, stems yield typically between 45 and 55 dt / ha (decitons per hectare), which is comparable to flax stem yield. Due to the variable fibre content, the fibre yields vary between 0.2 and 7 dt / ha, but the yields are normally in the range between 2 and 4 dt / ha.[50] Fibre varieties are normally cloning varieties and therefore planted from vegetative propagated plantlets. Direct seeding is possible, but leads to great heterogeneity in maturity.[51]

Nettles may be used as a dye-stuff, producing yellow from the roots, or yellowish green from the leaves.[52]

Feed

Nutrient contents

Fresh leaves contain approximately 82.4% water, 17.6% dry matter, 5.5% protein, 0.7 to 3.3% fat, and 7.1% carbohydrates.[53] Mature leaves contain about 40% α- linolenic acid, a valuable omega-3 acid.[54] For exact fatty acid contents see Table 1. Seeds contain much more fatty acid than leaves.[54]

Minerals (Ca, K, Mg, P, Si, S, Cl) and trace elements (Mn, Cu, Fe) contents depend mostly on the soil and the season.[53]

Carotenoids can be found primarily in the leaves, where different forms of lutein, xanthophyll and carotene are present (Table 2). Some carotenes are precursors of vitamin A (retinol), their retinol equivalents RE or retinol activity equivalents per g dry weight are 1.33 for mature leaves and 0.9 for young leaves.[53] Nettle contains much less carotenes and retinol than carrots, which contain 8.35 RE per g fresh weight.[55] Depending on the batch and the leave and stem content, nettle contains only traces of zeaxanthin or between 20 – 60 mg / kg of dry matter.[53][56] Nettle contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid, vitamin K1[53] and tocopherols (vitamin E).[56] The highest vitamin contents can be found in the leaves.[53]

Poultry: Egg yolk colouring in laying hens

In laying hens, nettle can be used as an egg yolk colorant instead of artificial pigments or other natural pigments (derived from marigold for yellow). Nettle has high carotenoid contents, especially lutein, β-carotene and zeaxanthin, of which lutein and zeaxanthin act as yellow pigments.[56][57][58] Feeding as little as 6.25 g dry nettle per kg feed is as effective as the synthetic pigments to colour the egg yolk. Feeding nettle has no detrimental effect on the performance of the laying hens or the general egg quality.[56]

Ruminants

Ruminants avoid fresh stinging nettles, however if the nettles are wilted or dry, voluntary intake can be high.

Gardening

Nettles have a number of other uses in the vegetable garden, including the potential for encouraging beneficial insects. Since nettles prefer to grow in phosphorus-rich and nitrogen rich soils that have recently been disturbed (and thus aerated), the growth of nettles is an indicator that an area has high fertility (especially phosphate and nitrate), and thus is an indicator to gardeners as to the quality of the soil.[60][61]

Nettles contain nitrogenous compounds, so are used as a compost activator[62] or can be used to make a liquid fertilizer, which although low in phosphate, is useful in supplying magnesium, sulphur, and iron.[63][64] They are also one of the few plants that can tolerate, and flourish in, soils rich in poultry droppings.

The stinging nettle is the Red Admiral caterpillar's primary host plant and can attract migrating Red Admiral butterflies to a garden.[65] U. dioica can be a troubling weed, and mowing can increase plant density.[66] Regular and persistent tilling will greatly reduce its numbers, and the use of herbicides such as 2,4-D and glyphosate are effective control measures.[66]

Field cultivation

Sowing and planting

Three cultivation techniques can be used for the stinging nettle: 1) direct sowing, 2) growing seedlings in nurseries with subsequent transplantation and 3) vegetative propagation via stolons or head cuttings.[67]

  1. Direct sowing: The seedbed should have a loose and fine structure, but should be reconsolidated using a packer roller imminently prior to sowing.[68] Sowing time can be either in autumn[69] or in spring.[70] Seed density should be 6 kg/ha with row spacing of 30 centimetres (12 in) and 42–50 cm in autumn and spring, respectively.[68][69][71] The disadvantage of direct sowing is that it usually leads to incomplete plant coverage.[68][71] This drawback can be mitigated by covering the seedbed with a transparent perforated foil in order to improve seed germination.[68][69] Further, weed control can be problematic as the stinging nettle has a slow seedling development time.[68]
  2. Growing seedlings: For this technique pre-germinated seeds are sown between mid-/end-February and beginning of April and grown in nurseries. Seedlings are grown in tuffs with 3-5 plants / tuff and a seed density of 1.2-1.6 kg / 1000 tuffs. A fastened germination is achieved by alternating high temperature during daytime (30 °C for 8 h) and lower temperature during nighttime (20 °C for 16 h).[68][71] Before transplanting, the seedlings should be fertilized and acclimated to cold temperatures.[68] Transplantation should start around Mid-April with row spacing of 42–50 centimetres (17–20 in) and plant spacing within rows of 25–30 cm.[70][71]
  3. Vegetative propagation: Stolons (with several buds) of 10 cm should be planted from mid-April in a depth of 5–7 centimetres (2.0–2.8 in).[70] Head cuttings are grown in nurseries starting between mid-May and mid-June. Growing tips with two leaf-pairs are cut from the mother plant and treated with root-growth inducing hormones. Transplantation can be delayed in comparison to the growing seedling technique.[68]

Greenhouse cultivation

The stinging nettle can also be grown in controlled-environment agriculture systems, such as soil-less medium cultivations or aeroponics, which may achieve higher yields, standardize quality, and reduce harvesting costs and contamination.[72]

Etymology

Urtica is derived from a Latin word meaning 'sting'.[73]

Dioica is derived from Greek, meaning 'of two houses' (having separate staminate and pistillate plants; dioecious).[73]

Gallery

  • "

    Young shoot

  • "

    Flowers (male) can be yellow

  • "

    Flowers (male) can be purple

  • "

    Flowers (female) can be green and white

  • "

    Fruits

See also

References

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Urtica dioica: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Urtica dioica, often known as common nettle, stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting) or nettle leaf, or just a nettle or stinger, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. Originally native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa, it is now found worldwide, including New Zealand and North America. The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation upon contact ("contact urticaria", a form of contact dermatitis). The plant has a long history of use as a source for traditional medicine, food, tea, and textile raw material in ancient societies.

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