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Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica
Urtica dioica subspecies gracilis.  Synonym: Urtica gracilis. (Stinging Nettle)
Urticaceae (Nettle Family)

Foothills, montane. Streamsides, wetlands, woodlands. Spring.
Opal Lake Trail, July 10, 2010 and Owens Basin Trail, June 13, 2004.

In the San Juans, Stinging Nettle is common but usually in scattered, thin patches.  It is often found at the base of rocky talus slopes where the water it enjoys is pushed to the surface.  The young plants in the top photograph will grow several more feet if they get enough water, as the plants in the second photograph did. 

Along streams in the East a related Urtica species grows to six feet tall in extensive dense patches, often along streams and rivulets.

Linnaeus named the Urtica genus and this species in 1753. "Urtica" is Latin for "to burn". "Dioica" is Greek for "two houses", indicating that the plant is "dioecious", i.e., it has unisexual flowers borne on separate plants. "Gracilis" is Latin for "slender".

Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica subspecies gracilis.  Synonym: Urtica gracilis. (Stinging Nettle)
Urticaceae (Nettle Family)

Foothills, montane. Streamsides, wetlands, woodlands. Spring.
Robertson Pasture Trail, Abajo Mountains, Utah; Lone Mesa State Park, July 3, 2011; and Lizard Head Trail June 19, 2004.

The tiny hairs along the stem and leaves and the several irritating substances they contain produce the intense itching when bare skin brushes against Stinging Nettle. Most people get immediate relief when they flood the affected skin with water.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Urtica dioica