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UK Nature > Wild Flowers > Colourless Wild Flowers > Urtica dioica
Common Name(s): Stinging Nettle
Scientific Name: Urtica dioica
Urtica dioica, more commonly known as the Stinging Nettle, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, one of the UK's most widespread and successful plants. It is characteristic of damp, nutrient-rich soils, but can colonise a wide range of other habitats. Urtica dioica also provides the food-plant for the caterpillars of several of our most colourful butterflies, such as Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Peacock (Inachis io). It grows 1-2m tall in the summer and dies down to the ground in winter. They have hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. The plant has a long history of use as a medicine and as a food source.
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