Urtica dioica

Perennial nettle

Family: Urticaceae

Origin: Eurasia, North Africa, North America

Close up of perennial nettle seeds.
Perennial nettle is a tenacious weed that likes to grow in disturbed areas and can be a problem on farms. Stock do not graze on the stinging plant, allowing it to take over in sites where grass is heavily grazed.
Photo credit: David Smith, www.delawarewildflowers.org

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Perennial, rhizomatous herb < 2 m tall. Stems and leaves are hairy with hollow stinging hairs. Leaves are soft, green, < 15 cm long and strongly serrated. Flowers are white/green and borne in dense axillary inflorescences during summer.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • you must not breed, distribute, release or sell perennial nettle within the Auckland region
  • you must not plant perennial nettle within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property
  • you must destroy any perennial nettle on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Moist soils, disturbed habitats, riparian areas, wetland margins, forest understorey, wasteland, farmland, roadsides, grasslands.


Seeds dispersed by birds. Vegetative spread from stolons and rhizomes.

Impact on environment

Forms dense clumps, outcompeting native plants. Stinging leaves can cause pain and swelling. May impede access to natural areas.


Site management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical with care.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with double strength glyphosate gel or foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Safety notes

Has stinging hairs on the plant that cause a itching and burning sensation, wear protective clothing when handling.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Close up of perennial nettle leaves and flowers.
Perennial nettle can grow up to 2m tall. Stems and leaves are covered in sharp hairs that sting when touched.
Photo credit: Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
Perennial nettle leaves against a blue background.
Seeds are generally eaten by birds and spread across areas. Rhizomes and stolons of perennial nettle can also grow from dumped green waste.
Photo credit: Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
Close up of a perennial nettle leaf.
Perennial nettle can be controlled using herbicide and this will penetrate into stolons and rhizomes. Seed can stay viable for years so return to controlled areas to remove young seedlings.
Photo credit: Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org