Urtica urens

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaUrticaceaeUrticaUrtica urens


A spring-germinating annual of well-tilled arable land, especially fields of broad-leaved crops, and also allotments, gardens, farmyards and waste ground. It prefers light, often sandy, soils of high fertility. Generally lowland, but reaching 500 m in E. Allendale (S. Northumb.).



World Distribution

As an archaeophyte U. urens has a Eurosiberian Southern-temperate distribution, but it is widely naturalised so that its distribution is now Circumpolar Southern-temperate.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 8


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.7

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15

Annual Precipitation (mm): 914

Life form information

Height (cm): 60

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 1924

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 283

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: -0.7

Weighted Changed Factor: 1

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


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 (182b)
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 & Fries (1986) Jalas & Suominen (1976)