WSU Extension


Weeds : Stinging nettle : Urtica dioica
(revision date: 2/12/2019)

Family: Urticaceae
Cycle: Perennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Stinging nettles are typically erect, slender plants reaching two to nine feet high. The opposite leaves are coarsely toothed and often about twice as long as broad. Some varieties have narrower leaves. The petiole is usually about 1/3 the length of the leaf blade. Plants are more or less hairy or bristly, with the characteristic stinging hairs typically occurring along the stems and on the undersides of the leaves. The stems are square in cross-section. Greenish (later brown) flower clusters occur in the axils of upper leaves and are typically loose or compact and drooping. Stinging nettle reproduces by seeds and by creeping rootstocks. SPECIAL INFORMATION: Minor to severe reactions can result from skin contact with the stinging hairs or bristles of stinging nettles. The stinging sensation results from the presence of irritating chemicals in the hairs.
Stinging nettles occur in moist woodlands and shady areas throughout the region. Stream banks are a common site.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Mowing to prevent seed production is a very effective means of management. In lawns, mowing regularly at the proper height for the grass species may help minimize weed growth and invasion.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Not a problem in healthy established turf. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
Turf areas
  • 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba
Bare ground areas
  • glyphosate
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Caption: Stinging nettle patch
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Stinging nettle leaves
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Stinging nettles
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Stinging nettle flowers
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Stinging nettle
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Stinging nettle clump
Photo by: R. Parker