Stinging Nettle

Scientific Name:

Urtica dioica

Type:

Herbaceous Plant

Habitat:

Wet and shady places

Range:

Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NON-NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Stinging nettles have dark green, opposite, toothed and pointed leaves. Their stems can grow from 2 to 5 feet high. Up close, you can see the thin, stinging hairs (“trichomes”) covering the stem and undersides of the leaves.

Fast Facts:

  • The trichomes (hairs) of stinging nettle contain formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, and histamine, which can cause swelling along with mild to intense burning/stinging sensation. This reaction can last several hours, but it is not known to cause serious harm. The rash can be treated with cold compresses and topical antihistamine.

  • The sting from the nettle plant has actually been used medically to treat arthritis, bursitis, and even things such as stimulating hair growth and ED!

  • An individual plant will produce either male or female flowers.

  • Stinging nettle is edible: it can be made into a tea, brewed into a beer, or used like spinach or other leafy greens. It must be cooked first, though, to prevent stinging.

  • In the UK, they have raw nettle eating competitions to see who is the toughest and can tolerate eating the most with the sting.

  • Stinging nettle is high in many vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and proteins. Making it into a tea or cooking the leaves like greens are ways to get these many benefits. You can also make nettle pesto for a healthy and tasty treat!

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Jill Katz (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 15, 2021, 8:22:22 PM