Stinging nettle Urtica dioica
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Patch-forming plant with stinging leaves and tassels of tiny flowers.
Although it has an unfavourable reputation, the common stinging nettle plays an important role in the wider environment. Many butterflies - among them the Peacock and Red Admiral - lay their eggs on them. Once hatched, the caterpillars feast on the nutritious nettle leaves.
Common throughout the UK.
Wasteland, woods, fens, roadsides, hedge banks.
Best time to see
Did you know...
The common stinging nettle is called a 'counterirritant': this means that the irritation caused by the nettle's hairs and chemicals can actually decrease an existing pain. In fact, Roman soldiers allegedly used this effect to adapt to the colder, harsher climate of Britain - rubbing nettles on their arms and legs to help them keep warm!