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The 3 beautiful butterflies of 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)

False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) — New York Botanical Garden, CC BY 4.0, via Index Kewensis


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

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

Wetland in Delaware — author 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 — Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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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