Urtica dioica (common or stinging nettle)

The common or stinging nettle is one of the British Isles most widespread and successful plants.  It is characteristic of damp, nutrient-rich soils, but can colonise a wide range of other habitats.

 Our ancestors used nettles as 

  • food
  • for fibre
  • in medicine

 and some of these uses are being revived today. In the British Isles it was widely thought that beating limbs with nettles would relieve rheumatic pains. At present research is being carried out into the use of nettles to cure arthritis.

Species detail

The common, or stinging, nettle is

  • a herbaceous plant
  • dark green leaves
  • inconspicuous flowers
  • abundant stinging hair
  • urtica diocia
    Taxonomy

    Discover more about the characteristic features of the common or stinging nettle.

  • urtica diocia
    Distribution, habitat and ecology

    The common, or stinging nettle is one of the British Isles most widespread and successful plants. Find out more about the habitats in which the stinging nettle thrives.

  • urtica diocia
    Uses

    Stinging nettles have been used as food, for textiles and as medicine. Discover more about the way nettles were used and how some of these practices are being revived today.

Images

urtica diocia

Urtica diocia stinging nettle leaf.

© F Vincentz
urtica diocia

Urtica diocia stinging nettle.

© F Vincentz
urtica diocia

Urtica diocia stinging nettles in the wild.

© F Vincentz
urtica diocia

Male flower of Urtica diocia the stinging nettle.

© F Vincentz
urtica diocia

Fruit of Urtica diocia the stinging nettle.

© F Vincentz
urtica diocia

Female flowers of Urtica diocia the stinging nettle.

urtica diocia

A cluster of Urtica dioica stinging nettle plants.

© N Barbieri 
urtica diocia

Urtica diocia stinging nettle hairs.

© 
J Prohaska