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A Comprehensive Guide to False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica)

False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) is found in moist loamy places along streams and wetlands with no or light shade. It has green/white non-showy flowers that appear in the summer and fall. It is the host plant for three species of butterflies and a gall midge (fly). This plant can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Taxonomy and History of False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica)

Herbarium specimen of false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica).
Herbarium Specimen — Boehmeria cylindrica (L.) Sw. Collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)


False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) was originally described by Carl Von Linnaeus as Urtica cylindrica in 1753 in Species Plantarum. The genus name was later changed in 1788. A member of the Nettle Family (Urticaceae), the species has sometimes been split into two varieties — drummondiana and scabra (Biota of North America Program).

False Nettle Description and Alternative Names

Vegetative plant of flase nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica).
Plant of False Nettle — Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


False nettle is a herbaceous plant that grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. The serrate leaves are lanceolate and range from 3 to 6 inches in length and 1 to 3 inches in width.

Alternative Names

This plant is also known by small-spike false nettle and bog hemp.

Range and Habitat

Old pond habitat in Delaware.
Old Pond Habitat — Robert Coxe, Image


This plant is found in eastern North America from New Mexico to Maine.


It is found on the edges of streams, riverbanks, and wetlands. In gardens it likes places that have partial shade and moist conditions.

Question mark butterfly on a leaf.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Gall of gall midge on false nettle plant.
Gall of Gall Midge — CriticalDrinking, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

False Nettle Host Species

Host plant for the Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma), Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) , and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterflies.

Other Wildlife Value

A gall midge (Neolasioptera boehmeriae) uses the leaves of false nettle for galls. (Wikipedia)

Interesting Facts

The genus name, Boehmeria, is named for Georg Rudolf Boehmer, a German botanist. The species name, cylindrica refers to the cylindrical spikes. — Wikipedia

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