The stinging nettle, botanically known as Urtica dioica, is from the nettle family. It is listed as both native and introduced as it depends on the cultivar selected which is most accurate.
Stinging Nettle Description
A green leaf plant with may bristles of stinging hairs, this plant has clusters of very small greenish blooms. The clusters appear feather-like and bloom between June and September. They are unisexual plants.
Grow in any lighting with a moist soil. Propagate by seed or by division.
The leaves and stems have stinging hairs. It has a mixture of chemicals that give off itching and burning, sometimes intensely, after touching the plant.
Distribution of Stinging Nettle
This plant can be found throughout the states of Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The genus and the family name comes from the ‘uro’ word in Latin which means ‘I burn’. This gives a nod to its high irritation factor for the skin.
The top leaves and the very young shoots have been used as a food source despite the warnings and the contact irritation factor of the plant. They’ve been cooked and used in stew and soups. The stinging characteristic is said to leave the plant after it is cooked.
Stinging Nettle as a Butterfly Plant
The stinging nettle is a larval host plant for the Red Admiral butterfly and the Question Mark butterfly. It helps bring these two butterflies into the landscape for them to leave their caterpillar eggs.