Stinging Nettles are a familiar plant to many of us, often firmly rooted in our memories after our first 'hands-on' experience - a prickling irritation that's not forgotten easily! A very common plant, it can be found growing in gardens, hedgerows, fields, woods 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. 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.
How to identify
To avoid the painful way to identify a Stinging Nettle, look for the hairs on its stem, its drooping, catkin flowers and oval, toothed leaves.
Where to find it
When to find it
How can people help
Many of our so-called 'weeds' are beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of flowers like buttercups in your lawn and Stinging Nettles near the compost heap, and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.