Often called common nettle, stinging nettle or nettle leaf, it is a familiar and common plant. This may not be a plant that you want in your garden but it is hugely beneficial to wildlife. A very common plant, the stinging nettle can be found growing in gardens, hedgerows, fields, woodlands and many other habitats.
Its preference for damp, fertile and disturbed ground makes it a good coloniser of places enriched by human activities, such as agriculture and development.
Remember when stung a natural remedy will often be found close at hand, traditionally the use of leaves of the common dock, which contain chemicals that neutralise the sting and also cool the skin would be recommended but more recent research shows that p lantain – Plantago lanceolata – may have a greater effect. To avoid the more painful way of identifying a stinging nettle, look for the hairs on its stem, its drooping, catkin flowers, and oval, toothed leaves.
Stinging nettles are great wildlife attractors: caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies use them as foodplants; ladybirds feast on the aphids that shelter among them; and seed-eating birds enjoy their autumn spoils