Belongs to: flowers

Stinging nettle Urtica dioica

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Stinging nettles are feared by the young and disliked by many adults, but are also food for several butterfly caterpillars

They like the fertile (and especially phosphate-rich) conditions created by man's activities, such as burial and agriculture

They are wind-pollinated and spread both by seed and by their long and tough yellow roots


Used as food for centuries, both as a soup and as salad, and as a stand-by in hard times like the Irish potato famine

Also used to treat arthritis, by stinging affected joints, and, after soaking in water, as a liquid fertiliser

  • Main photo
  • leaf

Photo © Tony Gunton

Photo © David Corke