Stinging Nettle

Urtica dioica

Family Urticaceae

Notable Features
Leaves: Alternate* leaves have heart-shaped bases, pointed tips, and are sharply toothed*. Each leaf and stem is well-equipped with a uniform coating of sharp, stinging needles that can cause injury if touched with bare hands.
Stems: Stems are hollow and have four sides.
Flowers: Green-tinged, white flowers appear in branching clusters at each pair of leaves coming off the central stem; appear June through September.
Size/ Shape: A 1 to 4 foot (¼ to 1¼ meter) high, unbranched, straight plant, which grows in waste areas and on roadsides.

Location on Campus

(click for map)

Located within the vegetation surrounding the Farber Library; near the Brandeis wetland.

WARNING: Because of the stinging needles, nettles should only be handled with gloves.

The stinging quality of the nettle disappears once the plant has been cooked. It makes an excellent cooked green and addition to soups. The young, tender shoots only a few inches tall, as well as the recently sprouted, upper leaves can be boiled to make a cooked green or steeped to make an excellent tea - the greens should be strained and lemon and sugar should be added to the remaining solution.

Except where specifically noted, all text, photographs, and drawings copyright Chris Bersbach and Lisa Leombruni 2002. No part of this page may be reproduced without the express permission of the authors.