Fine Art

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordoo: Rosales

Familia: Urticaceae
Tribus: Urticeae
Genus: Urtica
Species: U. angustifolia - U. ardens - U. atrichocaulis - U. atrovirens - U. cannabina - U. chamaedryoides - U. dioica - U. dubia - U. ferox - U. fissa - U. galeopsifolia - U. gracilenta - U. hyperborea - U. incisa - U. kioviensis - U. laetivirens - U. mairei - U. membranacea - U. morifolia - U. parviflora - U. pilulifera - U. platyphylla - U. pubescens - U. rupestris - U. simensis - U. sondenii - U. taiwaniana - U. thunbergiana - U. triangularis - U. urens


Urtica L., Sp. Pl. 2: 983. (1753) et Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 423. (1754)

Type species: Urtica dioica L., Sp. Pl. 2: 984. (1753)


Selepsion Raf.
Vrtica Noronha

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus II: 983. Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Genera Plantarum, ed. 5: 423. Reference page.

Additional references

Henning, T., Quandt, D., Grosse-Veldmann, B., Monro, A. & Weigend, M. 2014. Weeding the Nettles II: A delimitation of "Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae) based on morphological and molecular data, including a rehabilitation of Urtica gracilis Ait. Phytotaxa 162(2): 61–83. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.162.2.1 Reference page.
Weigend, M. & Luebert, F. 2009. Weeding the nettles I: clarifying species limits in perennial, rhizomatous Urtica (Urticaceae) from southern and central Chile and Argentina. Phytotaxa 2: 1–12. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.2.1.1 Paywall ResearchGate Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Urtica in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Jan 2. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2020. Urtica. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2020. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Jan 2. Reference page.

Vernacular names
አማርኛ: ሳማ
aragonés: Chordiga, chordica
العربية: قراص
asturianu: Urtica
azərbaycanca: Gicitkən
беларуская: Крапіва
български: Коприва
català: Ortiga
کوردی: گەزگەسک
čeština: kopřiva
чӑвашла: Вĕлтĕрен
dansk: Nælde
Deutsch: Brennnesseln
Zazaki: Dırrıke
Ελληνικά: Τσουκνίδα
English: Nettle
Esperanto: Urtiko
eesti: Nõges
euskara: Asun
فارسی: گزنه
suomi: Nokkoset
Nordfriisk: Braannäädler
français: Ortie
Gaeilge: Neantóg
galego: Ortiga
עברית: סרפד
hrvatski: Kopriva
hornjoserbsce: Kopřiwa
հայերեն: Եղինջ
Ido: Urtiko
日本語: イラクサ属
ქართული: ჭინჭარი
қазақша: Қалақай
перем коми: Петшӧр
한국어: 쐐기풀속
kurdî: Giyagezk
коми: Петшӧр
лакку: МечӀ
Limburgs: Brennieëtel
lietuvių: Dilgėlė
latviešu: Nātres
мокшень: Палакс
кырык мары: Нуж
مازِرونی: گزنه
Nedersaksies: Braandnetel
Nederlands: Brandnetel
norsk: Nesleslekta
Nouormand: Ortchie
Diné bizaad: Hołchʼíʼí
occitan: Urtica
ирон: Пысыра
polski: Pokrzywa
Runa Simi: Kisa
русский: Крапива
sardu: Pitigaìa
slovenčina: pŕhľava, žihľava
shqip: Hithëra
svenska: Nässlor
தமிழ்: செந்தட்டி
Türkçe: Isırgan
татарча/tatarça: Кычыткан
українська: Кропива
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Gazanda
Zeêuws: Broeinekel
中文: 蕁麻

Nettles are between 30-45 species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae, with a cosmopolitan though mainly temperate distribution. They are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few are shrubby. Most of the species have stinging hairs on the stems and leaves.

The most prominent member of the genus is the stinging nettle Urtica dioica, native to Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. The genus also contains a number of other species with similar properties, listed below. However, a large number of species names that will be encountered in this genus in the older literature (about 100 species have been described) are now recognized as synonyms of Urtica dioica. Some of these taxa are still recognized as subspecies.

Urtica nettles are food for the caterpillars of numerous Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), such as the tortrix moth Syricoris lacunana and several Nymphalidae.


Most of the species listed below share the property of having stinging hairs, and might be expected to have similar medicinal uses to the stinging nettle. The stings of Urtica ferox, the ongaonga or tree nettle of New Zealand, have been known to kill horses, dogs and at least one human.[1]

The nature of the toxin secreted by nettles is not settled. The stinging hairs of most nettle species contain formic acid, serotonin and histamine; however recent studies of Urtica thunbergiana implicate oxalic acid and tartaric acid rather than any of those substances, at least in that species.[2]

Species of nettle

Species in the genus Urtica, and their primary natural ranges, include:

* Urtica angustifolia Fisch. ex Hornem. 1819, China, Japan, Korea
* Urtica ardens China
* Urtica atrichocaulis Himalaya, southwestern China
* Urtica atrovirens western Mediterranean region
* Urtica cannabina L. 1753, Western Asia from Siberia to Iran
* Urtica chamaedryoides (heartleaf nettle), southeastern North America
* Urtica dioica L. 1753 (stinging nettle or bull nettle), Europe, Asia, North America
* Urtica dubia (large-leaved nettle), Canada
* Urtica ferox (ongaonga or tree nettle), New Zealand
* Urtica fissa China
* Urtica galeopsifolia Wierzb. ex Opiz, 1825, (fen nettle or stingless nettle). Europe. (Often considered a subspecies of Urtica dioica)
* Urtica gracilenta (mountain nettle), Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, northern Mexico
* Urtica hyperborea Himalaya from Pakistan to Bhutan, Mongolia and Tibet, high altitudes
* Urtica incisa (scrub nettle), Australia
* Urtica kioviensis Rogow. 1843, eastern Europe
* Urtica laetivirens Maxim. 1877, Japan, Manchuria
* Urtica linearifolia (creeping or swamp nettle), New Zealand
* Urtica mairei Himalaya, southwestern China, northeastern India, Myanmar
* Urtica membranacea Mediterranean region, Azores
* Urtica morifolia Canary Islands (endemic)
* Urtica parviflora Himalaya (lower altitudes)
* Urtica pilulifera (Roman nettle), southern Europe
* Urtica platyphylla Wedd. 1856-1857, China, Japan
* Urtica procera Mühlenberg (tall nettle), North America
* Urtica pubescens Ledeb. 1833, Southwestern Russia east to central Asia
* Urtica rupestris Sicily (endemic)
* Urtica sondenii (Simmons) Avrorin ex Geltman, 1988, northeastern Europe, northern Asia
* Urtica taiwaniana Taiwan
* Urtica thunbergiana Japan, Taiwan
* Urtica triangularisa
* Urtica urens L. 1753 (small nettle or annual nettle), Europe, North America

The family Urticaceae also contains some other plants called nettles that are not members of the genus Urtica. These include the wood nettle Laportea canadensis, found in eastern North America from Nova Scotia to Florida, and the false nettle Boehmeria cylindrica, found in most of the United States east of the Rockies. As its name implies, the false nettle does not sting.

Uses and medical properties of nettles
See also: Stinging nettle

Much historical evidence of use of nettles in medicine, folk remedies, cooking and fiber production relate to one species - Urtica dioica, but a fair amount also refers to the use of Urtica urens, the small nettle, which is preferred because it has more stinging hairs per leaf area than the more common species. It may be inappropriate and probably inaccurate to assume that all nettles exhibit similar properties in all cases, but where an action can be attributed to principles found in the species, such as histamine, choline, formic acid and silica, a rational basis for their use is still available. However, the fact that a medical action can be attributed to a single constituent does not imply that the entire plant will have the same action.

Role in the environment

Thanks to the stinging hairs, nettles are rarely eaten by herbivores, so they provide long-term shelter for insects, such as aphids or caterpillars of many butterflies[3] and moths.[4] The insects, in turn, provide food for small birds, such as tits.[5]


Though the fresh leaves can cause painful stings and acute urticaria, these are rarely seriously harmful. A possible exception is the Urtica ferox, the ongaonga or tree nettle of New Zealand. Otherwise most species of nettles are extremely safe and some are even eaten as vegetables after being steamed.[6]

Similar stinging plants

Other members of other genera in the Urticaceae, with powerful stings:

* Giant stinging tree (Dendrocnide excelsa)
* Gympie (Dendrocnide moroides)
* Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis)
* Nettle Tree (Urera baccifera)

There are also plants which can produce stinging sensations but which are unrelated to the Urticaceae:[7]

* Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia spp., Araceae)
* Cowhage (Mucuna pruriens, Fabaceae)
* Bull Nettle or Spurge Nettle (Cnidoscolus stimulosus, Euphorbiaceae)
* Ciega-vista (Croton ciliato-glandulosus, Euphorbiaceae)
* Stinging Spurge (Jatropha urens L., Euphorbiaceae)
* Noseburn (Tragia spp., Euphorbiaceae)
* Nilgiri Nettle (Girardinia leschenaultiana)

Similarly named plants

Plants with common names include the word "nettle" but which do not sting nor are they part of Urticacea':

* Dead-nettle (Lamium spp.) and woundwort or hedge-nettle (Stachys spp.) which are in the Lamiaceae or mint family.
* Devil's nettle, or yarrow (Achillea).
* Carolina horsenettle (Solanum carolinense) in the Solanaceae.
* Spurge-nettle (Cnidolscolus stimulosus) in the Euphorbiaceae.


1. ^ Connor, H.E. (1977). The Poisonous Plants in New Zealand New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Bulletin 99. ISSN 0077-916X
2. ^ *Fu H Y, Chen S J, Chen R F, Ding W H, Kuo-Huang L L, Huang R N (2006). Identification of oxalic acid and tartaric acid as major persistent pain-inducing toxins in the stinging hairs of the nettle,Urtica thunbergiana. It may also have a white bump(s)that will maybe spread a little. Annals of Botany (London), 98:57-65. Abstract
3. ^ Butterflies of the nettle patch
4. ^ Moths of the nettle patch
5. ^ Nettles and Wildlife by Prof. Chris Baines
6. ^
7. ^ Rohde, M. (1988-2006). "Guide to Contact-Poisonous Plants". Retrieved 2010-02-12.


* Anderberg, Kirsten (2005). Folk uses and history of medicinal uses of nettles. Nettles, Nettles, Everywhere
* Chrubasik S, Enderlein W, Bauer R, Grabner W. (1997). Evidence for the antirheumatic effectiveness of herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine 4: 105-108.
* Dathe G, Schmid H. (1987). Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): Double-blind study with extract of root of urtica (ERU). Urologe B 27: 223-226 [in German].
* Holden, Margaret (1948). "An alkali-producing mechanism in macerated leaves". Biochemical Journal 42 (3): 332–336. Retrieved 2006-09-25.
* Kirchhoff HW. (1983). Brennesselsaft als Diuretikum. Z. Phytother. 4: 621-626 [in German].
* Krzeski T, Kazón M, Borkowski A, et al. (1993). Combined extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: double-blind comparison of two doses. Clinical Therapy 15 (6): 1011-1020.
* Mittman, P. (1990). Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med 56: 44-47.
* Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, et al. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb pain. J. Roy. Soc. Med. 93: 305-309. reported online in British Medical Journal
* Weigend M, Luebert F. (2009). Weeding the nettles I: Clarifying species limits in perennial, rhizomatous Urtica (Urticaceae) from southern and central Chile and Argentina. Phytotaxa 2: 1-12.
* Yarnell E. (1998). Stinging nettle: A modern view of an ancient healing plant. Alt. Compl. Therapy 4: 180-186 (review).
* Healthy Life Magazine, Inc. (June 2007) p. 78

Plants, Fine Art Prints

Plants Images

Biology Encyclopedia

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Home - Hellenica World