Stinging nettle

Urtica dioica L.

Life cycle

Erect, rhizomatous perennial.

Leaves

Opposite, egg- to lance-shaped with a rounded base and pointed tip. Petiolated leaves have coarsely toothed margins, smooth surfaces to a few hairs beneath and long, stinging hairs on the lower surface. Contact with stinging hairs can cause a skin irritation.

stinging nettle seedling stinging nettle leaf
Stinging nettle seedling (left) and leaf (right).

Stems

Four-angled, herbaceous stems are usually erect and unbranched, up to 6 feet tall and covered with stinging hairs. Contact with stinging hairs can cause a skin irritation.

stinging nettle stem stinging nettle hair close-up
Stinging nettle stem (left). Close-up stinging hairs on stem of stinging nettle (right).

Flowers and fruit

Inconspicuous, green to yellow flowers are formed in clusters in the upper leaf axils. The seed is enclosed in a single-seeded, tan, egg-shaped fruit.

stinging nettle foliage & flowers
Stinging nettle foliage and flower clusters.

Reproduction

Seeds and rhizomes that form extensive colonies.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.