Urtica dioica

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaUrticaceaeUrticaUrtica dioica


A rhizomatous and stoloniferous perennial herb occurring in a wide range of habitats, including woods, scrub, unmanaged grasslands, fens, river banks, hedgerows, roadsides, manure heaps, cultivated and waste ground. It prefers damp, nutrient-rich soils. 0-850 m (Great Dun Fell, Westmorland).



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 6

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 8


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1102

Life form information

Height (cm): 150

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Clonality - secondary

Far-creeping by stolons in illuminated medium

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2773

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 983

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13

Atlas Change Index: 0.28

Weighted Changed Factor: -27

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


External Species Accounts

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (182c) Bassett IJ, Crompton CW, Woodland DW
1977.  The biology of Canadian weeds. 21. Urtica dioica L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 57:491-498. Geltman DV
1992.  Urtica galeopsifolia Wierzb. ex Opiz (Urticaceae) in Wicken Fen (E. England). Watsonia. 19:127-129. Greig-Smith P
1948.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 23. Urtica genus L. (pp. 339-343), Urtica dioica L. (pp. 343-351), Urtica urens L. (pp. 351-355). Journal of Ecology. 36:339-355. Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology. Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1976) Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols. Srutek M, Teckelmann M
1998.  Review of biology and ecology of Urtica dioica. Preslia (Praha). 70:1-19.