Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Stinging Nettles and Lookalikes

Stinging Nettles (pdc: der Brennessel; tax. Urtica dioica) , for those who have asked how to identify them. The stingers are very fine, but sometimes they are most easily visible on the leaves’ stems or on the stem. Note the pointy, rugged leaf. In this area most wild Stinging Nettle is either at the tail end of flowering or is going to seed.

Below are some pics of other plants that people sometimes confuse for Stinging Nettles.

Catnip (pdc: es Katzegraut; tax: Nepeta cataria) vs. Stinging Nettle (you can see the scissors holding the Nettle on the left-hand side of the second pic below).

Motherwort (pdc: es Muddergraut; tax: Leonurus cardiaca). When flowering, it is easy to tell the difference. Motherwort’s seed heads get prickly, but, unlike Nettles, they are not stingers injecting a histamine.

Fireweeds (pdc: die Feiergreider; tax: Erichtites spp.) have a thicker stem than Nettles and very different flowers and seed heads.

Virginia Copperleaf (pdc: Schlechter Heinrich: tax: Mercurialis perennis): The color gives this plant away. Common weed in this region.

Smartweeds (pdc: die Bitterkneeterich; tax: Polygonum spp.)... also called Lady’s Thumb... Lots of species in this region. Stem of smartweeds is segmented, and the flowerheads look very different from those of Nettles.

There are, naturally, other plants that are often confused for Stinging Nettles, but these are among the most common.