Urtica gracilenta

Mountain Nettle - Urtica gracilenta
Carbonate Creek Canyon
Black Range, New Mexico, USA
August 2015

I have stumbled into stands of stinging nettle in many places, most recently in the canyon of Carbonate Creek on the east side of the Black Range.  There are two possible nettles in our area, the Mountain Nettle, Urtica gracilenta - which is pictured here and is the cause of my most recent pain - has broader leaves than does the Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis.

I can attest to the fact that not all stinging nettle species exhibit the same potency.  Although it appears, from personal experience, that individual plants within the same species can have markedly different effects, I will be staying away from all of the Mountain Nettle stands that I see.  The stinging creating during my most recent encounter lasted for several hours - and Rebecca reported the same experience.

Stinging nettles typically grow in stands, often between where you are and where you want to go, I am not sure how the plant(s) are able to discern the best possible patch to grow in to create the best obstruction, or why they wish to - but they do.

The range of the Mountain Nettle is fairly restricted, it is found only in Northern Mexico and in the United States as indicated in the map to the right (light green indicates the species is native, present, and not rare in the county).  It tends to grow between the elevations of 3,900’ and 8,300’ along streams and in shade.

This species was first described by Edward Lee Greene in 1881.  The specimen (see below) used in the description was collected by Henry Hurd Rusby earlier in 1881.  In addition to collecting many species which were first described by others, Rusby is credited with the initial description of 1,648 species.



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© Robert Barnes 2018