simon the scribe


Nettles grow all over the UK and US but are hard to find in drier parts of the world. Nettles are thought to have found their way out of the UK due to John Josselyn a seventeenth-century English traveler, whose books give some of the earliest and most complete information on New England flora and fauna in colonial times. Nettles also grow wild in Southern Africa, and in the Andes, and even in areas of Australia. Nettles are mainly concentrated in the Northern hemisphere although the plant is also found in Japan.

Stinging Nettles love a fertile soil, rich in phosphates and nitrogen, often provided by human habitation which includes old pig and cattle-pens or places where excrement was once in plentiful supply, bonfire sites, refuse dumps and churchyards. They are abundant on cultivated land, in woodlands, on riverbanks and in hedgerows throughout the British Isles.

Young Nettle Leaf

Young stinging nettle leaf

There are several types of nettle in the UK but this site is concerned with the Common Nettle or Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica. It is described as “…a coarse perennial covered with stinging hairs, with tough yellow roots which form expanding patches of nettles. Four-angled stems have opposite, ovate, pointed and toothed leaves, the lower with blades longer than their stalks. Flowers are small, in loose axillary spikes, males and females on separate plants; greenish petals four. Fruit small, about 1.2mm, ovoid, flattened. Flowering: June – August”. From ‘Wild Flowers of Britain’ and Europe by Bob Press and Bob Gibbons.