The stinging nettle (urtica dioica) is one of the most fascinating weeds found throughout Europe and North America. It is extremely common and familiar to most people because of its mild sting. For this reason, it is often treated with disdain. However, it offers a litany of be beneficial qualities.
The weed is an herbaceous flowering plant which can take the form of any one of six sub-species. Of these species, five have stinging hairs called trichomes on their leaves and stems. The hollow hairs function as hypodermic needles and inject histamine and other chemicals into the skin. This is what produces the painful sensation when a person comes into contact with the stinging nettle.
Despite this, the weed is used, medicinally, to treat everything from urinary problems, joint pains, nosebleeds, lung congestion, stomach aches, diabetes, eczema, cancer, asthma, alopecia, and more. In some regions, it is also used as a culinary ingredient or added to hair and skin products. So, with all of these benefits, why would a gardener want to get rid of the stinging nettle?
Well, apart from their tendency to cause pain, these plants can quickly dominate soil and take over lawns. This is why a suitable lawn maintenance or weed control strategy is needed to keep their growth in check. If you think that you may have stinging nettles growing in your garden, identify the species by looking for the following features.
The weed can grow up to 2 meters tall in the summer, but it shrinks during cold weather. It has a creeping rhizome root structure which may be seen above ground. The leaves are soft and green and they can grow up to 6’’ long. They from a teardrop shape, with the broadest end attached to the stem. From May to September, small green or brown flowers appear.
The stinging nettle can be controlled with manual weed pulling or weed control. If all parts of the plant are removed and discarded, it is unlikely to grow back. However, the best way to make sure is to continue with lawn care and hoeing after removal. This will destroy any seedlings left in the ground. Or, you can seek the help of a reliable lawn service.