Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains
10. Urticaceae, the Nettle Family
2. Urtica L. -- Nettle
1. Urtica dioica L. -- Stinging nettle
Monoecious or dioecious, stout perennial 8-20 dm tall, often forming dense patches
by rhizomes, sparsely to moderately clothed with stinging hairs, otherwise glabrous
or sparsely to densely puberulent, the stems usually simple. Leaf
blades ovate to lanceolate, often conduplicate, mostly 5-15 cm long, 2-8
cm wide, puncticulate with cystoliths when dried, acute to acuminate, coarsely
serrate, cordate to truncate or rounded at the base; petioles mostly 1-6 cm
long; stipules linear-lanceolate, 5-15 mm long. Flower clusters branched
and spreading, usually surpassing the subtending petioles, the clusters all
of one sex or some male and some female, the female clusters usually above the
male when both are present. Achenes tan, ovate, 1-1.2(1.5) mm long, ca.
1/2 as wide, enclosed by the inner pair of sepals which are 1-1.5 mm
long, the outer pair ca. 1/2 as long. Jun--Sep. Moist woods, thickets, ditches,
shores, stream banks and disturbed areas; common; (Labr. to AK, s through most
of the U.S. and Mex.; also S.Amer. and Eurasia). U. procera Muhl.
American U. dioica is designated subsp. gracilis (Ait.) Seland.
The European U. dioica subsp. dioica differs in chromosome number
and is typically dioecious, whereas subsp. gracilis is predominantly
monoecious. Although subsp. dioica has been naturalized in e U.S.,
it has not been detected in our range.
The wood nettle, Laportea canadensis (L.) Wedd., is often abundant
in moist woods in the eastern and central parts of our area. This plant also
has stinging hairs but differs from stinging nettle in its shorter stature;
broader, alternately arranged leaves; and terminal inflorescence.
Previous Species -- Pilea pumila (L.) A. Gra
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