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Stinging Nettle

Scientific Name:

Urtica dioica


Herbaceous Plant


Wet and shady places


Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


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!



Jill Katz (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 15, 2021 at 8:22:22 PM

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